We open the new exhibition „Beautiful Freaks“ by Ralf Obergfell on Thursday, September 4 starting at 7 p.m. The photographs show remarkable characters of the London nightlife. The events with the same name took place in a labyrinth of ramshackle wood-and-steel constructions made by artist and set designer Tony Hornecker. With performers only partially visible, sometimes from uncomfortable angles, and clearly in command of their environments, it wasn’t clear who was on top, freaks or gawkers…
About Beautiful Freaks
Ralf Obergfell’s BEAUTIFUL FREAKS debuted in London in 2009, at the Dalston Superstore Gallery in the heart of the East End’s genderfuck explosion of art, fashion, partying and perversion. A carefully edited selection of Obergfell’s images was accompanied by a labyrinth of ramshackle wood-and-steel constructions made by artist and set designer Tony Hornecker, each one a hutch, lair or cage for one of the iconic performers featured in Obergfell’s images, including Jonny Woo, Ryan Styles, Scottee, A Man to Pet, Miss Transforma, Kevin Howbrook, Pia Arber, John Sizzle, Jeanette, Alex Collins and Cristobal Muir, with a live dark techno soundtrack by DJ Producer Per QX.
Like an Amsterdam alley with an avant-garde twist, it was a whirlwind of wigs, balloons and power tools, peep-holes, two-way mirrors and sliver-thin cracks, pissing, wanking and suicide – plus London’s first ever tranny toilet. With performers only partially visible, sometimes from uncomfortable angles, and clearly in command of their environments, it wasn’t clear who was on top, freaks or gawkers…
In 2010, the prestigious Royal College of Art invited Obergfell and Hornecker to restage BEAUTIFUL FREAKS as part of a season about gender and performance, also featuring Franko B, Oreet Ashery and Ana Laura López de la Torre. This time they took things up a notch, with new performers, more elaborate packing-crate-style constructions and extra-freaky goings on. Just as people were trying to work out if that was real fucking they’d just been spying on, the fire alarm went off – evacuate! Suddenly a gaggle of tranny superstars and freaky fantasists were disgorged half-naked onto the rainy pavement outside the RCA. Nothing for it but to pose for pictures by the bike racks before going back to pick up where they left off.
In 2012 Obergfell brought BEAUTIFUL FREAKS to Berlin, importing a taste of London genderfuck culture while drawing on the unique underground flavour of his new home for this one-night-only event. Tony Hornecker was busy exploring new opportunities in South America, so Obergfell was joined by super-hot, super-messy London-based performer A Man To Pet – one of the subjects of BEAUTIFUL FREAKS. Meanwhile, Berliner DJ Tim Knopf provided deep house and techno to keep things moving.
About Ralf Obergfell
The body of work that makes up BEAUTIFUL FREAKS finds its origins in London – specifically back in 2005 – 2010, at the time when East London’s electro scene started to gain real momentum.
German-born photographer Ralf Obergfell became a regular attendee of the much-loved Trailer Trash nights, capturing the magic of the club’s own after-dark legends and befriending many of them.
As a resident of Dalston until 2010, when he moved to live and work in Berlin, Obergfell had been a passionate participant in and chronicler of the area’s burgeoning nightlife scenes from their earliest days. Armed with his camera, he has documented the polysexual denizens frequenting gritty, yet ground-breaking East London watering holes such as the George & Dragon and Joiners Arms on Hackney Road and at the notorious gay parties at 333 in Shoreditch.
Continuing to photograph the more extreme enclaves of club kids, disco freaks and transsexuals, Obergfell has consistently zoomed in on the most exotic creatures at a new wave of nightlife events, including GutterSlut (the club night he co-founded in 2007 with the Dalston Gay Mafia), NYC Downlow and other knees-ups of note such as Jonny Woo’s Gay Bingo and Tony Hornecker’s Pale Blue Door pop-up restaurant.
Obergfell’s photographic interpretations of the remarkable characters he has discovered on his nocturnal travels avoid the distant stance of the voyeur. The pictures he presents make for a celebratory and highly-involved testament to those whose lives – reinvented, transformed; made better, brighter, louder, wilder and lived-out to the max – are a fantastic confusion of reality and performance, with the disco and art gallery as a stage.
Fotoausstellung „Beautiful Freaks“ von Ralf Obergfell
Das RosaCaleta eröffnet am Donnerstag, den 4. September 2014 um 19 Uhr die Fotoausstellung „Beautiful Freaks“. Darin zeigt Ralf Obergfell ausgefallene Gestalten aus dem Londoner Nachtleben. Unter der gleichnamigen Veranstaltung waren sie Ausstellungs- und zugleich Aktionsobjekte in einer Holz-und-Stahl-Konstruktion von Künstler und Setdesigner Tony Hornecker. Die Besucher wanderten hindurch und durch die Interaktion verwischte die Grenze zwischen Zuschauer und Akteuren.