Sunday, March 7

Who Shot Rock?

We here at happen to be located in the heart of Massachusetts, just beyond the northern edge of Worcester. We're fortunate to have a number of fine museums in Worcester, the flagship being the Worcester Art Museum. This weekend marked the opening of an excellent show from the Brooklyn Art Museum, "Who Shot Rock & Roll, a Photographic History 1955 to the Present."

The Brooklyn Art Museum writes of the show:
"Who Shot Rock & Roll is the first major museum exhibition on rock and roll to put photographers in the foreground, acknowledging their creative and collaborative role in the history of rock music. From its earliest days, rock and roll was captured in photographs that personalized, and frequently eroticized, the musicians, creating a visual identity for the genre. The photographers were handmaidens to the rock-and-roll revolution, and their images communicate the social and cultural transformations that rock has fostered since the 1950s."
Rock and art have had a long history of interaction and cross-inspiration. I think it's a good thing to draw inspiration from many, many places - it's easy to get comfortable with what you know you like, rather than always trying new things that you might not enjoy. Inspiration is similar to trying out new cuisines, if you always eat the same dish, you'll be comfortable but you won't grow. If you try lots of new things, you might find a lot of things you don't like, but you'll find far more new, exciting things than you would without trying at all.

In the end, that's what "Who Shot Rock" is all about, underneath the veneer of those rock archetypes - self expression and identity. The great rockers and music photographers in history have been those to try new things. Sometimes, even often, they failed; when they succeeded, they reinvented the way the public (and youth in particular) saw the world.

"Who Shot Rock" is not a story of famous musicians, it's a story about humanity. So even if it isn't your cup of tea, I highly recommend reading the book or seeing the show. It's no less a history of culture than any other sort of journalistic endeavor, and sometimes even more so as many of the images were an attempt to create an context rather than remove it.

Barry Feinstein (American, born 1931). Bob Dylan with Kids, Liverpool, England, 1966 (printed 2009). Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Barry Feinstein


Alita said...

I'm so excited to see this - my dad (huge rock buff) is coming up from CT to check it out!

Michelle May said...

So glad you posted this! The show is incredibly amazing. So many huge music fans/musicians in Worcester. A perfect place to host. I could not see it all. I can't wait to go back again.

Adoniram said...

Yeah, it's always surprising to me just what a vibrant music scene Worcester has; for a "small" city of a quarter million it is very enthusiastic!