The silent majority

I have photographed many popular music artists and celebrities like Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Bertrand Cantat, Robert Smith and Jarvis Cocker. This present study, however, will focus on less well-known artists and bands. This is a political choice because those artists – those located at the edge of history and whose individual inner voices remain unheard – contribute to our understanding of popular music.

Concert photography typically distils the essence of camaraderie and energy through movement. I am not interested in the visual representation of the spirit of a rock concert. Rather, I wish to portray the individual inner voice, which I capture through the stillness of the artist. To me, photographs of artists onstage are only aesthetically valuable when they suggest an evocative portrayal of what it is like being at the margins.

This study focuses on two main themes: isolation and emotion. The element of isolation visible in my photographs reflects the political decisions I make in my photographic practice; to reject the traditional consumerist premise of the visual representation of popular music. My work also enables the viewer to access the everyday person behind the artist, to engage with the person behind the persona. What is the artist feeling at this moment? My photographs capture the emotions of a moment, but are they theirs or mine? By isolating an image, I choose an emotion. The emotion goes beyond the conventions of musical genres and concert photography to say: ‘This is what the music could be about’.

Thus, I break away from the typical photographic representation of popular music artists that imposes a commoditised and restrictive visual narrative of popular music. The mainstream narrative claim to document the history of popular music but invariably contributes to the strengthening of music genre categorisation. In contrast, my narrative tells a different story, and as such acts as a form of resistance to the dominant discourses, which are usually exacerbated by celebrity culture.

This work was exhibited as part of the Photography Open Salon in Arles in 2012 and Penang in 2013. To view the photographs, click here:

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