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Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
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Central Booking Magazine

Half-Strong and Swiss
Karlheinz Weinberger
Halbstarke and Bikers
Reviewer #1
Karlheinz Weinberger, Portrait, Zurich, 1962

Oh those Swiss rebels, they can be so cute! The show at Anna Kustera Gallery “Halbstarke and Bikers” concentrates on a choice set of work by the mid-20th century Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger. (A more comprehensive, but consequently less focused retrospective can be seen concurrently at the Swiss Institute on Lower Broadway.)

Weinberger, who was essentially an amateur photographer, started in the mid 1950’s, photographing for a magazine produced by a gay nightclub in Zurich. By the 1960’s he started to encounter what the Swiss then called “halbstarke”. Translated generally as hooligans, (the German term curiously means ‘half-strong’,) these were the young, disaffected, outcasts of the very straight-laced Swiss society. As in all such groups, some of them, informed by their obsession with American ‘rebels’ such as James Dean and Elvis, dressed in self-consciously outrageous costumes. And Weinberger was there.

 by unidentified photographer.
Karlheinz Weinberger, “Rumy (Priska Sonderegger), Lake Biel, St. Petersinsel,” 1963

One can only wonder where they are now, fifty years later – grey-bearded, respectable, sock-and-sandal wearing Swiss burghers. The show becomes a meditation on the fickleness of youth, and how it is so much wiser to be extravagant with hair and clothes than with tattoos and diamond tooth inlays.

The show includes some fairly lifeless images from the next decade or so of Swiss motorcycle gangs– making it clear that the energy of the earlier shots came from the models themselves, not the photographer. But the heat is still there, and well worth a visit on a late winter’s day.

Karlheinz Weinberger
Halbstarke and Bikers


Anna Kustera
520 W 21st St.
Chelsea         Map

212 989 0082
annakustera.com

Thursday, February 10 to
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Hours: Tues-Sat 11 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery