In Cabaret of the Nameless (Kabarett der Namenlosen), I photograph startling geometric simplifications of the human form, and theatrical interior scenes, many lit only by the glare of candles. My images focus on dramatic situations and subjects, and a high contrast of light and dark (chiaroscuro) similar to artistic techniques used by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Georges de La Tour in their paintings 400 years ago.
I began photographing burlesque and drag shows at the turn of this century. One hundred years earlier, Kabarett began to flourish in Berlin, but soon all forms of public criticism were banned by a censor on theatres. This ban was lifted at the end of the WWI, allowing artists to include social themes and political developments. In 1926, Kabarett der Namemlosen was born, where the worst possible talent was used to satisfy pleasures of a cruel audience. Soon, Nazi power repressed this intellectual criticism. Many artists were imprisoned and sent to concentration camps, or fled into exile.
One hundred years later, cabaret and burlesque shows are making a dramatic comeback internationally. Artist LePustra recreated Kabarett der Namenlosen by offering a theatrical interplay of sinful beauties and forbidden oddities with a voyeuristic view of Berlin’s Kabarett scene of the 1920’s that not only explores sexual and artistic freedom, but also the dark and depraved undertones of the celebrated Weimar Republic cabaret culture during the interwar years.
Cabaret of the Nameless (Kabarett der Namenlosen)
‘Kleine Nachtrevue’ challenges one’s preconceived notion that burlesque performances are tantalizing and negatively objectify its performers. I create images that display the comeback of this courageous performing art as a means of positive self-expression.
Berlin’s burlesque scene has its roots in the pre-World War I era when variety shows hinted at political satire and criticism. With the rise of National Socialism, burlesque days were numbered, and during the 1930’s many of its performers fled abroad. By the 1960s, burlesque lost its cutting edge and became absorbed into mainstream entertainment on television and strip clubs shows.
Within Berlin's Schoenberg district is a small performing arts theater called Kleine Nachtrevue. Nightly shows consist of short song or dance numbers sprinkled whimsical costumes. The performances are funny, acrobatic, thought provoking, rhythmic, sexy, and magical for both the audience and the performers.
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