Event  |  Reviews  |  Comments
© Courtesy of the Artists and MF Gallery

213 Bond Street
Brooklyn, New York 11217
March 8th, 2014 - April 30th, 2014
Opening: March 8th, 2014 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM



“CONTROVISUAL” is a two-woman exhibit that unites the work of photographers Vera Comploj and Kathleen Hayes.

Drag Queens in smoky bars, masked bikini girls on a hot beach, transsexuals, surfers and misfits in glitter and costumes… The characters in “Controvisual” live in a fringe society where psychedelia meets film noir.

These captivating images complement each other, bringing black and white in contrast with bright color.

Vera Comploj’s latest photographic project is the result of 4 years of research in the submerged drag queen night scene of New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, and the transsexual day scene of the community "Le Princese" in Genova, Italy.

The pictures capture the magic of the “in-between” states that transform men into queens. These are moments when male and female, fantasy and fiction and day and night coexist. The uniqueness of her look comes from the personal relationships that the photographer builds with her subjects over time. Driven by her anthropological and sociological curiosity, Comploj introduces herself as an attentive listener. The final click is the outcome of a long process of trust when, after many meetings and talks, the subjects open up and unveil incredible personal stories. To truly document her subjects, Comploj has not intervened on the pictures with any post-production. The result is an arrestingly raw and honest portrayal of a world that is often glamorous, sometimes melancholic and always in-between.

Kathleen Hayes’ ongoing beach noir series, Flamingo Social Club, portrays a kitsch and colorful world at the seashore; an askew dream escape on a hot day at the beach. Plastic flamingos, melting ice pops, inflatables, and speedos fill the landscape under a canopy of beach umbrellas and solar rays.

It is a community of eccentrics. They are young and old, gay and straight, artists, designers, former club kids, surfers, skaters, geeks and scenesters. FSC is a place to play, rest, recover, recharge and worship the sun and the sea. The members of FSC are can be seen posing on the mussel shell encrusted Long Island shoreline slathered in coppertone, drinking exotic tropical cocktails and eating canned seafood. They are donned in flashy bikinis and creepy masks, which add a macabre twist to a garish summertime retreat.

Kathleen captures her sea shrines and off kilter portraits with an old twin lens reflex camera on a plot of sand in Long Beach, NYC

“Controvisual”, a 2-woman photography exhibit will open on Saturday March 8th in honor of International Women’s Day. Both artists will be in attendance from 7 to 10 pm. The show will run until the end of April 2014 and will be open by appointment by contacting Martina Secondo Russo at 917-446-8681 or . The entire show will also be available for viewing and purchasing online at:


Vera Comploj grew up in Selva Val Gardena, in the Italian Alps. After having studied in Bolzano at the Kunstlyzeum (high school with focus on visual arts), Vera graduated in product design from Politecnico di Milano and concluded her studies with a photography program at the CFP Bauer of Milan. She has lived and worked in Milan, London, Paris and New York City – where she currently resides.

In 2012, Vera was selected by Vogue US as one of the 10 finalists of the New Exposure competition. After the nomination, her series of photographs “Persona” was exhibited at Milk Gallery, in New York City. The same year, Vera’s work was also displayed at the Liverpool Biennial.

From January to April 2013 her first solo show, “In Between”, was exhibited at The Museion Contemporary Art Museum in Bolzano, Italy and was also presented during the festival "La Storia in Piazza" at Palazzo Ducale in Gennova, Italy, with an extended exhibition at The Villa Croce Contemporary Art Museum of Genova.

In Summer 2013, Vera conceived, planned, and hosted the Alter Ego workshop for 11-14 year olds at Museion.

Kathleen Hayes was born in Long Island, New York. She received her BFA from School of Visual Arts in 1997, where she majored in Photography. She draws inspiration for her photography, performance art and mixed media creations from her suburban roots, Halloween, death, her love of the sea, surf and skate culture, and her relationships within the gay community.

She participated in the I.P.F. Independent Photography Festival in Melbourne, Australia in both 2012 and 2013. Kathleen was selected by juror Sarah Stolfa, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, for inclusion in the Newspace Center for Photography, 9th Annual Juried Exhibition in Portland, OR in July of 2013. That same month her work was chosen by editor of F-Stop Magazine, Christy Karpinski, for a show about summer titled “July” at A. Smith Gallery in Johnson City, TX. Earlier in summer 2013, she exhibited alongside skateboard legends and artists Steve Caballero and Christian Hosoi for the Monofilamental Art Show during Dew Tour in Ocean City, MD at Punk Rock Fish Studio.

Kathleen won the title of Best Mermaid in the 2012 Coney Island Mermaid Parade, painted as a Mexican, Dia De Los Muertos mermaid. A mini documentary about Kathleen’s parade victory was featured on the art and pop culture blog, Laughingsquid.

Kathleen’s photography has been featured online by Fototazo, F-stop Magazine, Feature Shoot, and The Photographer’s Room.