Jessy Boon Cowler


Marinos Tsagkarakis

Artist Feature

Every week an artist is featured whose single image was published by Der Greif. The Feature shows the image in the original context of the series.

Dustin Thierry - Opulence

Feb 19, 2020

Opulence (2013-ongoing), followed the suicide of his brother, a young polysexual man who dreamed of escaping Curaçao’s strictures and homophobia to follow Dustin to Europe. In his grief, Dustin began documenting the LGBTQ Ballroom scene across Europe. Through this, Dustin was imagining and experiencing the community his brother would have found if he had made it there, while finding a community for himself in the process. The project is dedicated to his late brother, and its wide ranging success is both homage to his legacy as well as a fight to beautifully make visible a resilient and inspiring community that faces relentless repression and violence. Opulence has grown into a fluid, ever-expanding, living archive of feelings, gender expressions, and LGBTQ identities across Europe. The tender portraits are unadorned, raw, deeply human and, of course, opulent.


This series was exhibited as part of ‘The People’s Parliament of Rojava’ at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (2018-2019) and was exhibited as a solo show at Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam (2019). Group shows include: Rencontres de Bamako: African Biennale of Photography in Mali, the preeminent photography event on the African continent (2019), where Dustin was the first Black Dutch Photographer to participate, Lagos Photo Festival in Nigeria (2019), Aperture Summer Open: Delirious Cities and Labs New Artists III at Red Hook Labs in New York (2019), Photo Vogue Festival at BASE Milano, where he also exhibited at Leica Galerie (2019), and the Encontros da Imagem in Braga, Portugal where he was a finalist for the Portfolio Review Award.


Opulence is currently in production as a new solo show at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven (opening late May ‘20) as a group show at Open Eye Gallery: ‘The Time We Call Our Own’ in Liverpool (opening May ‘20) and at the ‘35th edition’ of Villa Noailles in Hyères (opening April ’20).



Artist Blog

The blog of Der Greif is written entirely by the artists who have been invited to doing an Artist-Feature. Every week, we have a different author.

Chronicling (our)story.

Feb 24, 2020 - Dustin Thierry

Opulence started with me being invited into different queer spaces. As Perry once stated; ‘Dustin, we need brothers like you.’


After the passing of my brother, I felt an urgency to reveal the kinds of problematic power dynamics which are in western societies by helping folks vocalise their oppression.

I did this, and continue to do this, through workshops, the images I take, exhibitions I put up and collaborations I wish to realise.


Through trials and tribulations I succeeded to act as a visual amplifier that transmitted the community’s challenges and thoughts through photography. Of course, the community came with demands and questions about what would be done with the photographs. By giving them agency to co-creating with me on the project and it’s articles became a mandatory method to shaping the genetic code of Opulence.


As I worked on Opulence, it deeply influenced and effected my life and creative process in ways that I was never able to imagine.
It thought me to cheerfully learn from my mistakes and trust the journey more than tensely living towards my own expectations.


With my project Opulence I always wanted to treat this as a form of dialogue by utilising and reactivating my platforms and peers. So, below I’ve reached out to some of the people photographed throughout the years, and asked them if there was a cause or charity that they wanted to highlight. Over the next few days I’ll be sharing voices from the series, please listen to them.


Some of the text has been edited and checked for spelling, yet nothing has been altered.


For now, here’s a playlist I currently boogie to.





Elejandro Martinez

Feb 21, 2020 - Dustin Thierry

Living in a time, a time where they are stuck on the idea of being equal.
Cyberly equal…
They want to equal what they see on their screens; nothing is real ‘cause they don’t care to see.
Everything they see points right back at them, making them feel the urge to be equal.
Everything they see, they believe; nothing left to imagine or feel…
I’m from an island though, I know the deal.
I come from a place where it’s harsh yet paradise, where reality is the norm and the way of life.
Nothing is sugarcoated, no help, not many resources, but that’s how I know it.
Nothing to fake, not many choices.
Dad always said: “Learn to do without,” so if you don’t have it, you do without it.

I can’t seem to fall for the hype, ‘cause I’m an island boy, 4 life!



Saviero Kotzebue

Feb 20, 2020 - Dustin Thierry

I am Saviero and in the ballroom I go by the name of Savphire. I am also a member of the first Dutch kiki house named Kiki House of Angels, which I am the overall princess of. And I am the mother of the Benelux chapter of the International Iconic House of Revlon.


I was introduced to the scene by two very good friends Makaba Garcon and Noa 007. Since then I have enjoyed my ballroom career while also being very ambitious in my personal life where I focus on my massage practise named Haus of Hands, which focuses on the overall health of people. Mental health is becoming a real important thing in everyone’s life and it is my mission to make people aware of their overall state of health.


Ballroom is a place where everyone can come and be fabulous for a weekend when walking a ball. My duty as a leader and mother goes beyond that. I am working on creating a space for the ballroom kids to be more than just a fan favourite. I want to bring back the core values of the ballroom scene. We have many talented people who slay on the floor but then it stops there, and that should not be case. They need to take their talent and gift and show the world what they have to offer.


Being inspired by Billy Porter, Tyler Perry, Oprah, Beyoncé and many more, I am making it one of my goals to create this space where people of the ballroom scene can grow and evolve.


We are losing too many people because they really feel like they do not belong. I want to make it clear that having a life outside of ballroom is extremely important in every single way. I can’t announce yet what I am working on, but it is in the works and when it is ready I hope the scene will appreciate it. Being on the floor is fab’ but behind the floor is where the work should be done on, that’s how a legacy gets build.




Muva Amber Vineyard

Feb 19, 2020 - Dustin Thierry

To the Ballroom Community who is aware of the discussions happening about Non-Binary within Ballroom, I would like to be clear to everyone where I stand.


I have created Lion Babe for a reason that fits within the FRAME OF BALLROOM. With all due respect to Non-binary identifying people, just because I created Lion Babe doesn’t mean that I support all Non-binary categories being created.


I would like to be very clear that Ballroom is BASED ON THE BINARY WORLD that we live in, therefore non-binary realness does not exist.
If this offends anyone, then I feel that you need to do more time in ballroom to understand what realness is really about.


Agree or disagree?

Let’s talk about it….


Non-binary in Ballroom – Talk & Jam.
March 23rd
at Club Lovelee


Lijnbaansgracht 238
1017PH Amsterdam Centrum