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