French photographer Frédéric Nauczyciel has made a splash by photographing some of Baltimore’s most colourful ballroom voguers. Frédéric’s new collection, The Fire Flies, comprises hundreds of pictures of ‘flamboyant, savant, baroque’ voguers posing in the backyards and alleys of urban Baltimore.
The portraits, which are on show at New York’s Julie Meneret Contemporary Art Gallery until May 18th, wryly comment on the origins of the ballroom vogue movement by referencing Vogue magazine. They are, as Frédéric says himself, ‘fireflies: the faint and almost secret, hidden, glowing light that one needs to seek for. [It’s a] poetical metaphor of the flamboyance of their fast and furious performance when they battle.’
“They change the city they live in by their secret existence which is a grey area of understanding that makes the world real,” he adds.
Frédéric originally came to Baltimore on a very different mission: to create a series of photos based on a character from the award-winning TV show The Wire. But his focus changed when he encountered some ballroom voguers dancing the night away in a parking lot. He was hooked, and for the next three years he regularly returned to Baltimore to shoot voguers in all kinds of poses.
Frédéric also fell in love with Baltimore’s distinctive row houses and ghetto neighbourhoods. It is a city that, so he says, has ‘no museum, no subway and no fashion show rooms.’
His favourite moment of this project was when Kory Goose Revlon, Marquis Revlon and thirty other ballroom voguers improvising a dance when Frédéric played a classical composition by Bach rather than the vogue music they were expecting. ‘That was beautiful and inspiring,’ recalls Frédéric and led me to embrace Baroque as a metaphor for my European — and French — perspective on the voguing phenomenon.’