Self expression is something that I champion because I know it’s important for humans to be able to show the world their tribe. During the 1950s, that was pretty hard to do if you were a teenager at a when society expected you to play the assimilation game. Fitting in and living your life by the rules were things that were a global state of mind. While Rock & Roll culture was starting to take shape in America, it was also starting to spread across the world. Case in point was what was happening in Switzerland during the 50’s with the ROCKER REBEL YOUTH, a youth movement that idolized Elvis, James Dean, Gene Vincent and others, and which happened to be captured by the amateur photographer Karlheinz Weinberger. These kids had balls when it came to their gear, that is for sure. I would describe their style as being Rockabilly on ultra strength steroids. Honestly, when I look at Weinberger’s pictures, I’m inspired to wave my weirdo flag high.
This is what Anna Kustera had to say about this youth movement:
“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.”