Beautiful Worlds – Portraits by Pepper Levain

Pepper was born in Duesseldorf, Germany and spent her youth there, as well as in New Zealand and Northern Ireland. She was raised without siblings and divorced parents, her mum a theatre actress and social worker, her dad convinced catholic and caretaker in a retirement home. Aged 23 she moved to Brighton, UK to study Performance Art and to create surrealist stage performances. After that she went back to Germany to go to art school in Cologne, where she started writing a psychedelic essay film. During this time the artist kept going to New York to write and photograph. This research journey made her create a large portfolio of polaroids and 35mm shots mainly taken within the LGBTQ community, queer nightlife and the alternative fashion scene.

Pepper describes the queer scene as her home and artistic playground. While being an observer and documenter she also creates very own characters to film and photograph, eg. a series of portraits showing a queer interpretation of „Bonnie and Clyde“.

Her film was shot on 16mm last summer. She involved various drag and trans friends to perform her imaginative figures she had written during her time in New York and Cologne. Pepper’s photographic impressions, conserved in analogue format juxtapose personified artificiality and radical authenticity. The work’s content opens not only a contemporary dialogue relating to subjects such as social movement and the meaning of queer. It offers a visual landscape that instead of victimizing a subculture, captures a strength and proof of self empowerment of a highly diverse scene, that may be applied to being a symbolical statement for freedom of self expression and and an act of social emancipation at all. The use of analogue films examines questions and aesthetics related to footage of past decades, imagery and time: do scenes still exist? What is underground? Pepper currently lives in Berlin where she works as artist and author. She writes and photographs for PANTA and VICE.

Insta: @pepperlevain