TRANSFORMER: Aspects of Travesty

13 December 2013 - 28 February 2014

On the 40th anniversary of 'Transformer: Aspects of Travesty' - a groundbreaking show curated by Jean-Christophe Ammann in 1974 - Richard Saltoun Gallery announces a re-proposition of the original exhibition, that will reunite all the artists, in London. This is the first such reunion to commemorate the exhibition which deals with the aesthetics of desire and sexuality through travesty and drag performance.


Transformer will include works from all the artists featured in the original exhibition: Luciano CASTELLI, Jürgen KLAUKE, Urs LÜTHI, Pierre MOLINIER, Tony MORGAN, Luigi ONTANI, Walter PFEIFFER, Andrew SHERWOOD, Katharina SIEVERDING, Werner Alex Meyer (alias Alex SILBER), THE COCKETTES and Andy WARHOL.


Transformer looks back at the '70s contemporary society and art practice, considering the aspects of transvestism and sexual self-reflection in art. The exhibition takes its title from the seminal 1972 album by  Lou Reed, finding its parallel in the worlds of fashion and glam-rock. Transformer examines the politics and aesthetics of transgressing identity and at the disruptive sexualisation of masculinity by incorporating characters usually labelled as 'feminine', as Brian Eno reflected with a text written for the original catalogue. The exhibition opened at the Kunstmuseum Lucerne, Switzerland and was an extraordinary cultural event: the opening was recorded by Swiss TV and it toured later to Germany and Austria. Whilst the exhibition received no publicity in the UK, it has been influential for art theory and history, since it was the first occasion that sought to theorise transvestism and which explored non-normative sexualities and the production of identity.


References to Transformer have recently appeared in Glam! The Performance of Style, Tate Liverpool, Kunsthalle Frankfurt and Kunstmuseum Linz (2013) and in A Bigger Splash: Painting After Performance, Tate Modern (2013). The exhibition at Richard Saltoun Gallery will contain the sexually explicit content of the exhibition and show the lesser-known artists originally included.




For info and RSVP e-mail


Richard Saltoun Gallery presents a series of events as part of the current exhibition Transformer: Aspects of Travesty.

The programme reflects around the politics of drag and feminine aesthetics, from the '70s to the present time. The current proliferation of curated events and shows that reference these practices in London, along with a growing generation of younger queer artists who embrace those same visions, has made the present time the moment to stage a reappraisal of Transformer (1974). The programme is curated by Giulia Casalini.

Thursday 30 January
THE COCKETTES Elevator Girls In Bondage: Screening
7:00 pm (RSVP)
Elevator Girls in Bondage (1972, 57' colour, dir. Michael Kalmen), starring The Cockettes members, including Rumi Missabu and Hibiscus (Angel of Light). Introduced by Giulia Casalini.
The underpaid staff of a seedy hotel rise up in revolt when head Elevator Girl Maxine (Rumi) starts a Marxist-Feminist secret association to liberate the girls. Issues of economic and sexual exploitation are raised in this film with a surreal and fun cynicism. For more information about The Cockettes visit

Thursday 13 February
TRANSFORMER with Jonny Woo
7:00 pm
Tour of the exhibition with drag performer and writer Jonny Woo.
Jonny Woo has been a central figure for reviving the cabaret scene and for taking alternative drag performance to mainstream audiences since 2000. He has performed at the ICA, Bistroteque, Soho Theatre, and in a variety of international festivals, also curating events for MTV, Selfridges and The Royal Opera House.

Thursday 27 February
7:00 pm (RSVP)
Gavin Butt explores the Andy Warhol / Paul Morrissey film, Women in Revolt! (1971) in the context of the Transformer exhibition.
Against the backdrop of the film's comic and politically troublesome treatment of the Women's Liberation Movement, Butt focuses on the dreams of stardom and social advancement that the film arguably attempts to make real for its transgender players. The film features Andy Warhol superstars and transgender underground legends Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn.  Gavin Butt is Professor of Visual Cultures and Performance at Goldsmiths University. He explores art and performance practices across high and popular cultures, and within underground and subculture. He is the co-director of the Performance Matters research project and co-director of the film This is Not a Dream (2013).

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