Critics’ Picks

Romeo (Werner Berger)
Boss der Revenger Gang
Zurich,
c.1962.

New York

Karlheinz Weinberger

Nicole Klagsbrun
526 West 26th Street Room 318
November 21 - January 17

Karlheinz Weinberger's '60s photos of Swiss bikers serve as a reminder of how much globalization has cost us, sartorially speaking. Surely a world in which teenagers from Tacoma to Tokyo covet the same Rocawear jacket will never produce the kind of purely local, seriously weird subcultural fashions that once prevailed among Zurich's motorcycle enthusiasts. These youngsters faithfully appropriated Marlon Brando's Wild One style but subjected its tropes to a process of exaggeration and enlargement, as if they had taken the giganticism of the movie screen literally. Thus, the photographs show us hubcap-size belt buckles adorned with paintings of Elvis; six-inch pompadours; and suspiciously bulging dungarees, the flies modified with rawhide thongs or metal bolts. Running through all of this is a thread of Alpine kitsch (think cheerily patterned wool booties) for an overall look that might be described as après ski meets Lucifer Rising. Weinberger's pictures, many of which were taken for the gay men's magazine Der Kreis, reveal his erotic interest in his subjects. But they indicate more complicated fascinations as well, attending, with a kind of cockeyed detachment, to the idiosyncrasies of dress and demeanor that speak to personality and inner life.