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Kunsthal Rotterdam Is Celebrating Ballroom Culture With ‘Deep in Vogue’ Exhibition

The exhibition will be on see from 18 September 2021 to 9 January 2022.

Legendary voguer Willi Ninja wearing Thierry Mugler body piece NYC, June 1989
Photo © Chantal Regnault

Kunsthal Rotterdam celebrates ballroom culture with its new exhibition ‘Deep in Vogue’ set to open this autumn. Made in close collaboration with Amber Vineyard – Mother of the House of Vineyard, the first ballroom house in the Netherlands, the exhibition celebrates and provides the context for a subculture that is shaped by and for black and brown queer and trans people.

ART

Princess Gaby Vineyard, Mother Amber Vineyard, Typhoon Angels chanting and cheering at a ‘Voguer’ (contestant) at the ‘Emerald City Ball’, hosted by the House of Vineyard Milkshake Festival, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2017
Film still Documentary O.T.A (Open To All) © Ottilie Maters

The origins of ballroom culture can be traced back to the New York underground scene of the 1970s. It was first brought to the attention of the general public with the launch of Madonna’s music video ‘Vogue’ in 1990, the same year in which the documentary ‘Paris Is Burning’ premiered. Over the past years, ballroom has returned to mainstream attention, for instance due to the television series Pose, and ballroom events at major festivals around the world. – from Kunsthal Rotterdam.

Aitana “Gilda Hair”, at home, working on a “Gilda” (another name for a wig) Amsterdam, The Netherlands, September 2020
Film still Documentary O.T.A (Open To All) © Ottilie Maters
* Urban NY, Chicago and Dc drag queens referred to their wigs as “Gilda’s” paying homage to the late Gilda Radner – source The Gilda Hair.

Through photography, video installations, and a number of fashion items, the exhibition Deep in Vogue. Celebrating Ballroom Culture showcases the community, codes, and expressive power of ballroom – focusing on its roots and the continuing need to celebrate each other in a society that so often fails to do so.

Legendary Dee Legacy, House of LaBeija ‘Kilimanjaro Ball’ NYC, September 1990
Photo © Chantal Renault

The exhibition focuses on the most important aspects of ballroom culture, from the 1980s up until now. Thirty black-and-white photographs by the French-Haitian documentary photographer Chantal Regnault tell the story of the social structures and mutual affection within the chosen families.

Legendary voguer Willi Ninja wearing Thierry Mugler body piece NYC, June 1989
Photo © Chantal Renault

Although the AIDS-epidemic claimed the lives of many ballroom pioneers in the 1980s and early 1990s, it certainly did not mean the end of the community and their legacies are carried on to this day. The culture has since spread around the globe, and by now there is also a thriving community in the Netherlands. 

Legendary voguers Luis, Danny, Jose and David-Ian Xtravaganza NYC, May 1989
Photo © Chantal Regnault

The interviews with people from the community not only show how the houses and participants prepare for the competitive balls in this day and age, but also reveal that these houses still function as a social safety net for people who have to battle discrimination and stigmatisation on a daily basis. Ballroom offers them a world where they can be exactly who they are. 

Connie Girl Fleming, backstage of the grandest grand march ever during aids benefit Palladium NYC, June 1990
Photo © Chantal Regnault

The exhibition will be on see from 18 September 2021 to 9 January 2022.

Aitana Miyake Mugler category: FF Sex Siren, ‘We are The Night Ball’ hosted by The House of Vineyard Tivoli Vreeburg Utrecht, The Netherlands, 2017
Film still Documentary O.T.A (Open To All) © Ottilie Maters

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