TRANSFORMER: Aspects Of Travesty
Counterculture, art and drag at London's Richard Saltoun Gallery
21 Jan 2014
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.
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
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.