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Fuck Gender – Photos by Annette Frick 1995-2003

26. February 2003 – 26. May 2003

At issue is the current gender debate with its danger of equalizing everything, everyone. Allegedly, censhorship is no more. But the slogan “anything goes” may well be a cover-up for narrow minds who only don’t want to be (seen as) reactionary. What we actually see are desperate attempts to take and smooth over, if not to say: castrate, with ever more sophistication. Behind this pretense of tolerance, however, are the same old fears: of anyone/thing beyond the ordinary. The hordes of middle-class conformists who’ll follow any dictate from above and fear individuality more than anything else, merely want that warm feeling of belonging to a cozy community – no matter what it’s based on. To get to the point: what do Jean Genet and Klaus Wowereit have in common but being gay men?! Assimilation is treason to a culture of one’s own.

On Annette Frick’s Photographs and Slide Shows by Marc Siegel:

For many years now photographer Annette Frick has been patiently and quietly documenting queer underground culture in Berlin. With a particular eye for the diversity within the gay and lesbian drag and performance scene, Frick covers both large cultural events like the Teddy Awards ceremony at the Berlinale and the smaller, less-commercial ones , such as the Fabrikantinnen, the annual lesbian feminist arts festival in a rented storefront in Friedrichshain. No matter where she is working, Frick captures those transient, ephemeral moments when a drag queen, a punk or a club performer is about to let her hair down, to take his or her wig off. In other words, one of the most distinctive qualities of her work is that it zeroes in on those rare moments backstage, in a dressing room, or in a nightclub, when both the peformer and the performance are visible. This is perhaps one way of understanding Frick’s project on, what she calls, “the masks of identity.”

It is a savvy project that acknowledges the apparent paradox that one puts on a mask, a disguise, not to hide oneself but to allow for the expression of one’s identity. By donning a mask, a wig, or a dress, Frick’s protagonists fabricate new identities. Since those in Frick’s world are some of the most innovative personalities from Berlin’s past and present cultural landscape, the new identities documented by these photos suggest something of the city’s radical cultural possibilities.

In many cases Frick’s photos are the only existing documents of an event that otherwise remains in the form of memories or stories passed on by the participants. Her photos therefore have a unique historical value. It is a testament to Frick’s skill and craft, however, that her photos retain something of the freshness and spontaneity of the environment in which she shot them. As an essential documentarian of Berlin’s underground scene, Frick has become as well a trusted participant in it. Her photos therefore reveal a kind of intimate, insider perspective on the raw fabulousness of queer life.

Curators: Wolfgang Theis, Anette Frick