TRANSFORMER: Aspects Of Travesty

Counterculture, art and drag at London's Richard Saltoun Gallery

21 Jan 2014

THE THIRD EYE magazine_Travesty exhibition_hibiscus_andrew sherwood
Hibiscus, 1973, a photograph by Andrew SHERWOOD. Black and white vintage photograph. 24 x 30.3 cm


Celebrating the revolutionary dimension of sexuality, TRANSFORMER: Aspects of Travesty presents works by avant-garde artists from the early Seventies. Through photographic portraits, the exhibition explores identity through drag, transvestism and performance, proposed as a contemporary reworking of the 1974 exhibition Transformer: Aspects of Travesty curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann. Participating artists include Luciano CASTELLI, Jürgen KLAUKE, Urs LÜTHI, Pierre MOLINIER, Tony MORGAN, Luigi ONTANI, Walter PFEIFFER, Andrew SHERWOOD, Katharina SIEVERDING, Werner Alex Meyer (alias Alex SILBER), THE COCKETTES and Andy WARHOL.



THE THIRD EYE magazine_Travesty exhibition_alex silber
Augen bohren Löcher… / Eyes drill holes. Reason enough to lie along the sight beam, A work by Alex Silber. Black and white photograph on cardboard (AS photographed by Kat Zickendraht) 21 x 29.7 cm


A portrait by Andrew Sherwood captures Hibiscus, founder of San Francisco’s legendary hippie-psychedelic-drag theatre troupe THE COCKETTES. Between documentary and performance, the works celebrate sexual liberation with a rebellious attitude against social norms and conventional gender representation. It’s a vision allying glitter and power, male and female, dream and reality. Swiss artist Luciano Castelli’s works notably highlight the era’s fusion of art and life, seamlessly flowing into one another. Castelli appears as Lucille, his female alter-ego in a self-portrait.

“I believe we are all made up of male and female aspects, and the combination interests me”, said Luciano Castelli.

40 years on, drag continues to conjure the spirit of Transgression. It’s one with the power to shock, transform and mystify. 


TRANSFORMER: Aspects of Travesty through 28 February 2014 at Richard Saltoun Gallery in London.


All works Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery © The Artist

Text by Sophie Pinchetti


His Majesty The Queen, 1973. A Photograph by Luciano Castelli. Photo made with self-timer. 84 x 63 cm
His Majesty The Queen, 1973. A Photograph by Luciano Castelli. Photo made with self-timer. 84 x 63 cm

A special screening of Elevator Girls in Bondage this month

(1972, 57’ colour, dir. Michael Kalmen) Starring The Cockettes’ members, including Rumi Missabu and Hibiscus (Angel of Light). As part of a special series of events around the exhibition, this screening will take place on 30 January. ABOUT THE FILM: The underpaid staff of a seedy hotel rise up in revolt when head Elevator Girl Maxine (Rumi) starts a Marxist-Feminist secret association to liberate the girls, followed by explicit sex scenes. 


THE OTHER_HOME OF SUBCULTURES STYLE DOCUMENTARY_The Cockettes_Rumi Missabu_Elevator Girls in Bondage
Cockette Rumi Missabu starred in Elevator Girls in Bondage, 1972, 57’ colour, directed by Michael Kalmen.

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