This weekend saw the opening of Midnight Mass, an exploration of club culture, collective consciousness and identity, at Brooklyn’s BLAM Gallery. Bringing together three artists based in different continents, the exhibition acts as a window into past and current underground club cultures in New York, Brazil and Berlin.Midnight MassInspired by the artists’ different takes on their subjects, the exhibition celebrates the ‘essence and power’ of the underground club scenes, exploring the performativity, human connection and sense of spirituality they are home to.

Midnight Mass - Frank RiposoThis element of performativity can clearly be found in the work of Frank Rispoli (pictured above/below). Turning his lens on club attire, he offers an intimate view of NYC’s New Wave scene throughout the 70s and 80s – a movement that defied norms to create its own rebellious sound and style.Midnight Mass - Frank RiposoCreating portraits of women through their shoes, his photographs capture the decadence of the time while highlighting the relationship between fashion and club culture. They’re a riotous, colourful view of the scene’s debauchery and excitement.

Midnight Mass - Vincent RosenblattVincent Rosenblatt’s striking photographs (pictured above/below) continue this sense of shared euphoria. Infiltrating the underground Bailes Funk and urban fringe culture in Brazil, Rosenblatt provides an intimate insight into the freedom and unity of their communities.Midnight Mass - Vincent RosenblattOperating on the outskirts of the law, the unique favela movement faces opposition from authorities and his work is a rare record of the threatened scene. The hedonism, sweat, and self-expression on display emphasise the empowerment found at these events, and his shots capture their energy and power with intoxicating results.Midnight Mass - felix scheinbergerAnother elusive community is revealed through work of Felix Scheinberger (pictured above/below), whose provocative illustrations act as an unusual record of the hedonistic nature of Berlin institutions, Berghain and KitKat Club.midnight mass - felix scheinberger

Notoriously difficult to get into, with guarded doors and strict no photography policies, the clubs are shown in a gloriously raw light; Scheinberger draws back the curtain with colourful depictions of clientele – gimp masks and all. His illustrations, as with all the work displayed, are an opportunity to experience a scene that is normally particularly inaccessible.
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midnight mass - felix scheinbergerTaking Midnight Mass to another level, BLAM will also be hosting a multi-sensory experience for one night only on March 24, recreating club culture for itself with a special dance party. Transforming a nearby gallery space, the event will showcase the work of light and video artists – complete with specially designed scents to recreate that 4am smell (make of that what you will).With this exhibition, curator Nina Catalanotto looked to share worlds that might not otherwise be experienced and to celebrate their effects. For her, ‘people on the fringe of culture, who are not accepted by society for a variety of reasons, can come and bond and create their own communities.
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They can feel completely accepted in these spaces and that is something very valuable.’ At a time when club culture seems to be under threat by ever-increasing restrictions and closures – particularly in London – this is an important reminder of what is worth preserving.

Midnight Mass is on at the BLAM Gallery in Brooklyn, NYC, from March 17 – April 9, with a special one-night event on March 24. Find out more here.

Images courtesy of Nina Catalanotto
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