Written by Luiza De Moraes Campos
Music, one could say, is a matter of the eardrums. Yet, what would Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” sound like without the legendary images of her in that punk-styled wedding dress, wild locks whipping about as she erotically humps the stage? What you hear is what you get, until you see the sweat, passion, and gyrating motions that make a song an experience.
Trendland got an exclusive look at Who Shot Rock & Roll—the riveting new exhibit at The Annenberg Space for Photography, which opens this Saturday. The collection, being the first of its kind ever, highly accredits and puts photographers in the forefront of single-handedly constructing a platform for musical artists to create, express, and build their iconic images.
The show properly begins with a section titled “Elvis,” and who else to better have started the visual revolution in the music industry besides the king himself? With his hip swinging moves, Elvis finally gave a new meaning to the ‘still image.’ In 1955 his personality, his swagger, and his killer charm burned through photographs paving the way for Rock ‘n’ Roll’s first visual identity.
With over 160 images and a short film by Arclight Productions made solely for Annenberg, this exhibit pays full tribute not to the stars of the shows, but to the photographers—the silent war-horses of the musical stage. Above is one of several personal polaroids by Shawn Mortenson of Courtney Love endearingly hand-signed “fuck you,” taken in between a photo shoot for a new album that was released 7 days after Kurt Cobain’s death. Then, there’s some of the most famous images still shared today of Tupac, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Doors, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tina Turner, and an endless list of household names.
The show includes works from acclaimed and talented photographers such as Annie Lebowitz, Diane Arbus, Ed Colver, Henry Diltz, Jill Furmanovsky, Lynn Goldsmith, Bob Gruen, Norman Seeff, and Guy Webster –to name a few. In a dome-shaped screening room, the short film gives an intimate view of their lives from touring for three years with Oasis to Linda McCartney’s fairytale love story with the beloved Beatle, Paul McCartney.
Most of all, this exhibit shows an honest look into the hard work and friendships these photographers developed with people who, with their help, rose to be world phenomenon. Further tying the significance of music and photography is KCRW’s Who Shot Rock & Roll live music series beginning July 14th with performances by special guests, Moby, Portugal. The Man, Band of Skulls, and Raphael Saadiq. Stay tuned for live reviews!
More information at www.annenbergspaceforphotography.org