Carmen Rupe

Fiona Clark

“I first met Carmen Rupe at the Miss N.Z. Drag Queen Ball in 1975. From that time I kept in touch, visiting her, printing personal Christmas cards for her and providing images for her & business cards. This image of her dressed in one of her favourite colours, red, as the exotic gypsy, bohemian style.
To me, Carmen embodied Aroha & Manaakitanga.” Fiona Clark

Title: Carmen Rupe,
Date: 2005
Medium: Digital file, to Aluminium panel, satin laminate

Artist Description:

When photographing Carmen, I wanted to make images that will be seen in our history and archives. To tell the story of Carmen Rupe, a trailblazing transgender woman, entertainer, a larger-than-life personality, sex worker, and celebrated LGBTIQ+ icon.


Fiona Clark’s photographs provide access to crucial forms of social history, often investigating the politics of gender, identity, and the body. For almost five decades she has produced intimate and engaged images of bodies generally avoided by the public gaze.  These works provided the methodology for much of Clark’s practice, especially in their emphasis on a collaborative approach and a sense of responsibility towards her images’ subjects, Between 2002–2006 Clark exhibited a series of solo exhibitions, entitled GO GIRL, at public art institutions across Australasia. A feature-length documentary, Fiona Clark: Unafraid was released in 2021.

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