Vintage Photographs Document the Defiant Street Styles Of Swiss Rebel Youth From The Late 1950s Through The ’60s

Karlheinz Weinberger (1921-2006). Living in Zurich, Switzerland, Weinberger was a self-taught “amateur” photographer whose day job working in a factory warehouse allowed him to pursue photography seriously in his free time. In the late 1940s Weinberger began to publish his pictures for a gay magazine using the pseudonym of Jim, and later was a freelance photographer for a Swiss sports magazine. Working in relative obscurity, Weinberger produced all the prints featured in this exhibition in his home darkroom, and these have remained inaccessible until recent years.

According to The Selvedge Yard, in 1958, Karlheinz Weinberger met a member of a small band of teenagers and began photographing them both at his home studio as well as at the public parks and carnivals where they gathered. In post war Switzerland, these self-named “rebels” were comprised of working class boys and girls dissatisfied with the conservative and conforming culture of the day. Inventing their own code of behavior and dress they affected a powerful gang identity expressed by an affinity for like-minded American imports such as James Dean, Elvis, blue jeans and motorbikes.

Later, in the mid-60s, the rebels dissipated both physically and in spirit, while others carried on their youthful resistance to the status quo, forming clubs of “rockers” and “bikers” that Weinberger followed with his camera on their outings into the Swiss countryside. Their retreat from the urban setting to a self-imposed isolation in nature embodied a more inward revolt, one of self-destructiveness and self-mutilation.


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