RGE00099-1000x550.jpg

Every year a lavish ball which is one of the biggest in Europe is held.  The Life Ball was founded in 1992 by Gery Keszler and DR. Torgom Petrosian. Ever since its debut, the annual event has been committed to removing taboos and fighting against HIV and AIDS, as well as addressing socio-political issues surrounding the virus. This blog will examine the collages that were both the visual and thematic framework for the Life Ball 2017.  Here, the organisers have drawn inspiration from the decadence and austerity of 1920’s-30’s Germany. First, in brightly colored deco couture that conjure up the glamorous and grotesque subjects of an Otto Dix painting. Then through architecture, referencing the monolithic classicism of nazi architect, Albert Speer.

The life Ball, to me, resembled an utopian dystopian ‘Hunger Games’ overseen by the fat elite with their brightly coloured fake personas.    I’d be interested in the thoughts of the reader. 

The slogan for this years Life Ball was #recognisethedanger – the organisers of the event  state on their website that the Life Ball evokes the zeitgeist of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Recognizing dangers in all areas – from health to society – is the overarching theme.

This annual event is held in Vienna, Austria. The backdrop is reminiscent of the Capitol City in The Hunger Games.  

An opening ceremony took place on a massive stage in front of City Hall. Hosted by Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst
An opening ceremony took place on a massive stage in front of City Hall. Hosted by Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst
The Life Ball, which takes place in the Vienna City Hall
The Life Ball, which takes place in the Vienna City Hall
Avenue of the Tributes, Capitol City - Hunger Games (2012)
Avenue of the Tributes, Capitol City – Hunger Games (2012)

THE JAPANESE DANCER PLAYED THE ROLE OF THE WHORE OF BABYLON“. ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS SCENES FROM THE MOVIE METROPOLIS. A CLASSIC MOVIE FROM 1925/26, TAKING PLACE IN A FUTURISTIC CITY WITH TWO-CLASS SOCIETY. – SOUND FAMILIAR?

 

hurevonbabylon.jpg

For those whom, do not know this most famous scene, click below to see.

Unknown-1.jpegMetropolis is a 1927 German expressionist epic science-fiction drama film directed by Fritz Lang.  It is regarded as a pioneering work of the science-fiction genre in movies, being among the first feature-length movies of the genre.  Made in Germany during the Weimar Period, Metropolis is set in a futuristic 2026 urban dystopia in the city of Metropolis, wealthy industrialists reign from high-rise tower complexes, while underground-dwelling workers toil to operate the underground machines that power the city.

Otto Dix

Wilhelm Heinrich Otto Dix was a German painter and printmaker, noted for his ruthless and harshly realistic depictions of Weimar society and the brutality of war.

Every sexual predilection was catered for during the roaring twenties. Identities began to open up, traditional borders were publicly crossed. But the beggar in the background here remains unnoticed – nobody is even looking at him. What do freedom and beauty mean, if they can turn away from those neither beautiful nor free?
Every sexual predilection was catered for during the roaring twenties. Identities began to open up, traditional borders were publicly crossed. But the beggar in the background here remains unnoticed – nobody is even looking at him. What do freedom and beauty mean, if they can turn away from those neither beautiful nor free?
A group of colourful individualists pursue their vision of beauty at the margins of society. Behind them, uniformed brutality is threatening their way of life. Do they have the strength to stand up for themselves, and for one another, or will they be trampled under the super-conformist jackboots?
A group of colourful individualists pursue their vision of beauty at the margins of society. Behind them, uniformed brutality is threatening their way of life. Do they have the strength to stand up for themselves, and for one another, or will they be trampled under the super-conformist jackboots?
A new, openly hedonistic culture thrives amid the ruins of the First World War. Bars and cabarets are lled with individualist birds of paradise living in the moment. But their freedom to be themselves is already under threat.
A new, openly hedonistic culture thrives amid the ruins of the First World War. Bars and cabarets are lled with individualist birds of paradise living in the moment. But their freedom to be themselves is already under threat.
Otto Dix Grossstadt 1927-28
Otto Dix Grossstadt 1927-28

 Otto Dix was first and foremost a critic of capitalism — a fact obscured by the bullshitting of his art by Hollywood, that is, the dumbing of it down into entertainment in such films as Cabaret, more pointedly, the neutralising and kitschifying of its critical content by its assimilation into the society of the spectacle we culturally inhabit. 

Otto Dix
Otto Dix
The seven deadly sins reminded painter Otto Dix of the depravity and decadence he saw all around him in inter-war Berlin. But who’s to say what’s sin and what’s virtue? Who has the power to decide for everyone else?
The seven deadly sins reminded painter Otto Dix of the depravity and decadence he saw all around him in inter-war Berlin. But who’s to say what’s sin and what’s virtue? Who has the power to decide for everyone else?
Otto Dix The Seven Deadly Sins 1933
Otto Dix The Seven Deadly Sins 1933

Otto Dix’s  prescient picture of Hitler as one of The Seven Deadly Sins (1933) is a brilliantly on-target allegorical painting.

The Berlin doctor Magnus Hirschfeld was a pioneer in expanding the boundaries of sexual identities.  His clinic offered a scienti c approach to understanding queerness. He was even involved in the rst ever sex change operation. As book burners tried to impose their idea of normal, he unlocked the door to new possibilities.
The Berlin doctor Magnus Hirschfeld was a pioneer in expanding the boundaries of sexual identities. His clinic offered a scienti c approach to understanding queerness. He was even involved in the rst ever sex change operation. As book burners tried to impose their idea of normal, he unlocked the door to new possibilities.

In the above picture CONCHITA WURST poses in a mirror exposing both breasts. 

Otto Dix Dedicated to Sadists 1922
Otto Dix Dedicated to Sadists 1922
A game of life and death.  Oskar Schlemmer’s mechanical gures are like chess pieces in some nal confrontation. Are they people? Are they machines? A destructive sex goddess seduces the masses in the background. The black and white machine-people must choose their next move wisely.
A game of life and death. Oskar Schlemmer’s mechanical gures are like chess pieces in some nal confrontation. Are they people? Are they machines? A destructive sex goddess seduces the masses in the background. The black and white machine-people must choose their next move wisely.
What is male beauty?  While the fascists promoted idealized sculpted torsos from an imagined ancient Greece, cubist and expressionist artists explored different and freer interpretations of the male body. Labelled “degenerate”, the artists were persecuted and their works often destroyed.
What is male beauty? While the fascists promoted idealized sculpted torsos from an imagined ancient Greece, cubist and expressionist artists explored different and freer interpretations of the male body. Labelled “degenerate”, the artists were persecuted and their works often destroyed.
The 1920s and 1930s were a liberating laboratory of self expression and sexual identity for women, gay and straight. At the same time, a counter-movement of chaste exercising con ned countless girls and women to a virginal sameness. Were they drawn together at the price of their individuality?
The 1920s and 1930s were a liberating laboratory of self expression and sexual identity for women, gay and straight. At the same time, a counter-movement of chaste exercising con ned countless girls and women to a virginal sameness. Were they drawn together at the price of their individuality?

In this shoot we see aspects of Otto’s famous works.  

Otto Dix Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber 1925
Otto Dix Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber 1925

Raised by a grandmother in Dresden, Anita Berber fled to Berlin at age 16 where she supported herself in caberets. By the end of the war, she was dancing nude and performing in films. She was notorious and always in the company of lovers of both sexes. She could often be seen in hotel lobbies naked apart from an sable wrap, a pet monkey and a silver brooch packed with cocaine. She died of tuberculosis in 1928.

Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden  1926
Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden 1926

She walked in one direction and he in the other. Dix stopped in his tracks. “I must paint you, I simply must! You represent an entire epoch.” She was amused. “You want to paint my lacklustre eyes, my ornate ears, my long nose, my thin lips. You want to paint my short legs, my big feet – things that can only frighten people and delight no one?” To Dix, her depiction was perfect. The portrait would represent a generation concerned not with the outward beauty of a woman but her psychological condition.

Josephine Baker was famous for her sensational dance performances. She often wore nothing but a few ostrich feathers, and her famous banana costume caused a public scandal. She played with stereotypes about “natural“ African sensuality. But while audiences gawped at her gyrations, many saw in her art a re ection of their own expectations and desires.
Josephine Baker was famous for her sensational dance performances. She often wore nothing but a few ostrich feathers, and her famous banana costume caused a public scandal. She played with stereotypes about “natural“ African sensuality. But while audiences gawped at her gyrations, many saw in her art a re ection of their own expectations and desires.
Big city (Triptych) (Großstadt (Triptychon)). Central panel, 1927/28
Big city (Triptych) (Großstadt (Triptychon)). Central panel, 1927/28


2015 theme was Change, renewal and improvement that was the main topic for Life Ball which runs under the motto To every age its battle. To every battle its setting sun. The word ‘battle’ stands for the fight against the stigma associated with HIV disease and the social exclusion of infected people.  The inspiration for the event came from both the religious practice from ancient Rome and the title of the magazine of the Vienna Secession art movement which was founded by artists like Gustav Klimt and Wiener Werkstätte designer Koloman Moser.

Each year, one or more famous fashion designers are responsible for the event’s fashion show.  This year a fashion show by Francesco Scognamiglio dazzled the audience with its hunky male models in corsets and stockings along with beautiful women in one-of-a-kind gowns. The show ended with Dionne Warwick and her granddaughter Cheyenne Elliott serenading the crowd with a duet of “What the World Needs Now.”

Sources and further reading.  

Life Ball 2017 http://lifeplus.at/en/

Lifebible https://www.lifebible.org/en/

Life Ball 2017: A First-Hand Account of the World’s Most Explosively Decadent, Supermodel and Drag Queen-Packed Charity Gala https://www.wmagazine.com/story/life-ball-2017-inside-account-naomi-campbell-rupauls-drag-race

Metropolis http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017136/

 

Advertisements