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Ryan McGinley’s Fall and The Winter
Photography Ryan McGinley

The most intoxicating photo stories of the month

All-female fight clubs in east Berlin, (what could be) Ryan McGinley’s most beautiful work yet, sad girls online, and educating Cape Town about trans issues

THESE PHOTOS GO INSIDE AN EAST BERLIN, ALL-FEMALE FIGHT CLUB

In an all-female fight club located in east Berlin, bodybuilders take on black belts in jiu-jitsu, and beginners ‘catfight’. Captured by photographer Katarzyna Mazur, this is one place where fights fall into categories based on determination over weight and height, and where you can see women like Anna Konda throw down on the regular. Mazur said, "I like the idea of contradiction; something that is contradicting the perspective of modern women in society. But also, someone who is contradicting me, in the way they are."

THESE PHOTOS DOCUMENT THE FEARLESSNESS OF 80S LONDON YOUTH

If you were a gender-bending club kid in the 80s British underground, then chances are you might have been photographed by Derek Ridgers. Capturing the heady heights of hedonism, Ridgers shared one of the richest insights into UK youth culture when he published his book The Others in early October. Self-describing the photos he took between three and four in the morning as his best work, we caught up with him here.

EROTIC PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

London-based photographer Meagan Eagles shoots erotica for the 21st century. Cherry picking from influences like Helmut Newton and Playboy – which she first came across when she was younger and loved. An homage to the nude female form, Eagles told us, “"I just love photographing women”, adding, “ love tan lines and body hair and my intention is to present female sexuality, intimately from a female gaze. To give a glimpse into the world of female sexuality from a woman’s point of view and to show my subjects as strong and with sexual agency – something that is powerful and bad-ass."

REMOVING THE STIGMA OF HOMELESSNESS THROUGH SKATEBOARDING

LA-based photographer Nolwen Cifuentes turned her back on the shimmering lights of Hollywood for the underbelly of places like Skid Row and Venice Beach. Shadowing a young man called Roderick as he spent his days skateboarding in the sun. From the fleeting impression of Roderick, most people don't know he's also homeless. Her goal was to “personalise the experience of being alone and homeless in a city like LA”. Capturing him through the lens of her 35mm camera, Cifuentes hopes that, in some way, she can help dismantle the stigma attached to the city's homeless population that they are all “crazy, drug addicts (and) lazy”.

HOW GIRLS ARE FINDING EMPOWERMENT THROUGH BEING SAD ONLINE

If you're sad and online and haven't heard of Sad Girl Theory then Audrey Wollen has your back. Based on the idea that sadness is actually empowering for women, and by sharing it through selfies and Instagram, we can in some way help subvert the objectification of women throughout history. “Girls’ sadness is not passive, self-involved or shallow; it is a gesture of liberation, it is articulate and informed, it is a way of reclaiming agency over our bodies, identities, and lives,” she told us.

RYAN MCGINLEY PITS NAKED BODIES AGAINST EXTREME ELEMENTS

Ryan McGinley visited both New York and Los Angeles in a tale of extremities. For this story, the photographer captured bodies pitted against icy conditions in the snow-dumped landscape of upstate NY, utilising ice-fishing tents, propane tanks and rock-climbing equipment in order to get some of the most majestic shots you might have ever seen.

CAN YOU TELL WHO’S ‘GAY’ OR ‘STRAIGHT’ IN THESE PHOTOGRAPHS?

In a world that doesn't consider sexuality as fluid as it should be, photographer Luke Smithers is tackling the stereotypes of what a 'gay' person looks like in compared to someone who is 'straight'. Inspired by Collier Schorr’s photograph “Night Porter (Matthias)”, Smithers used the body as canvas to explore self-representation through boa scarves and army uniforms.

CAPTURING THE LIFE OF A TRANS WOMAN IN SOUTH AFRICA

Chedino is probably one of the most inspirational and positive people you'll ever have the chance of meeting – or at least meeting through your screen. This series of photographs taken in her home town of Cape Town show the dancer with friends and family as she navigates the trans and drag scene in South Africa. Captured by Julia Gunther, "Chedino and Family" shows the importance of living life the most honest you can.

WHY WE SHOULD EMBRACE OUR BODIES’ ‘UGLY BITS’

Maisie Cousins isn't afraid of being a woman and neither is she afraid of all the 'gross' bits that come along with it. We teamed up with the London-based photographer in a shoot that highlighted the beauty of the 'ugly', with Cousins giving us a masterclass in imperfection. “Those fluids and ooziness bring you back to nature. We all produce and emit things. We’re made to look like these hard objects but we’re soft. Our bodies are living, breathing, slimy entities… They’re not polite objects,” she told us.

HOW TO USE ART TO GIVE TWO-FINGERS TO THE PATRIARCHY

Sick of the notion that femininity is a ‘side dish’ to patriarchy, London-based photographer and Rookie contributor Eleanor Hardwick’s series “Deconstructing the Complementary Colour" sees her contrasting nudes with fruit, blood and her own reflection. “It seems that so much of life is unnecessarily split into binaries... For example, the notion that femininity must be there to soften masculinity, or weakness to validate strength,” she told us. Read the full feature here.