What exactly is the definition of a “hipster”? Well, there are several different varieties so it is of course difficult to say. You’ve got your holistic vegan hipsters, the “I’m too cool to care about anything” hipster, druggie club hipsters, and of course, those hipsters that you just can’t actually suss out whether they are homeless or are just wearing copious amounts of found clothing and boycotting showers. But where did it all begin? The origins are rumored to lie with the punk “glamazons” of the East London although they are very different from the new-age hippies we know today. A German veteran of the East London, where this underground art culture originated, photographer Ralf Obergfell documents the avante garde revolution in his new photo exhibition, “Beautiful Freaks.” The show highlights the East London club scene of the early 2000’s: the bizarre costumes, make-up, and hardcore party animals which have played a significant role in shaping our own alternative culture today.
Right now you might be thinking, what does East London have to do with the Berlin scene? It is true, there are many differences between the two, however, while Berlin was still picking up the pieces after reunification in the 90s, East London introduced people to the idea of an “anything goes” environment very similar to Berlin’s atmosphere today. It was the idea that you can be gay, lesbian, straight, transgender, party all night, and wear whatever (and I mean WHATEVER) the hell you want. This is the world that Ralf Obergfell was thrown into when he was 19 and left his home in Freiburg to go to London.
The Life Nocturnal
“It was around the time when the East London scene really started to kick – like the drug scene and alternative sub cultures – so i just spent years in the club spaces and documented all of these beautiful freaks,” he said. “Back in the days it was just a gritty hole; it was a dump but it attracted a lot of artists and they kind of transformed the area and created something amazing.”
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