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Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photography Exhibition

Showcasing 173 photographs of rock, pop and hip hop, the title of the exhibition is apt. Although I would have liked to use my camera to take a few of my favorite photos, it is strictly prohibited.

All the photographs fill six exhibition spaces of Julian and Josie Robertson Galleries in Level 1. In Starting Out, it features artists before they became famous. The Rolling Stones sitting outside a cafe; series of Elvis Presley photos (kissing a girl right, performing on stage); Ike and Tina Turner performing; The Ramones leaning on a wall; the Silver Beatles (consisting of 5 members including George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney); Madonna spotted by a photographer on an East Village street walking home from gym. An old video of Elvis Presley was featured through a projector, performing “Heartbreak Hotel” in the TV program Stage Show in 1956.

In Behind the Scenes, Amy Winehouse was pictured on her wedding day lying on a bed in a provocative manner; The Ronettes and Sony Bono rehearsing with someone on the piano; John Lennon and Yoko Ono lying in bed together; Keith Richards and his young family; Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain in one of their worse times; Axl Rose playing billiards; Debbie Harry of Blondie pictured outside the famous bar CBGB; M.I.A. looking tired after her performance; Jay Z and Puff Daddy playing on their game or mobile devices. A music video of Bjork performing “Big Time Sensuality” is featured on two small CRT video monitors, one where she was simply making movements while the other featured her singing.

In Performance, photographers shoot the rock stars’ antics through their trigger-sharp reflexes. A series of four photos where Jimi Hendrix set fire to his guitar; Freddie Mercury with the microphone; Iggy Pop’s godlike body with a pair of hands trying to touch him; Elton John kicks his platform shoes into the air while doing a handstand on his piano keyboard; Johnny Cash flicking his middle finger at the camera after performing inside prison walls; Grace Jones mirroring the shape of the accordion strapped to her body; Tina Turner singing and dancing; two Red Hot Chili Peppers members touching tongues. A video wall featuring The Vines’ video “Outtathaway.” A wall of Bob Dylan photos were featured as well. A photo of an interview where he brought a ventriloquist dummy, he and his girlfriend walking on a street with her hands on his right arm, and a photo of him leaning on a wall one cold day are just a few.

In Fans and Crowds, some photos feature having fun at concerts, while others show the fans following their idols offstage. Morrissey fans tearing a shirt apart to get a piece of him as souvenir; another picture of Morrissey fans entranced by his music. One video features Grace Jones performing “One Man Show” using Jansen Duo 100 speakers, while another shows Sonic Youth’s music video “Death Valley.”

In Constructing an Image, one of my most favorite photos is that of Mick Jagger’s face overlaid with another photo of a leopard shot up close.

In Portraits, it features the iconic photos of artists where some were used as album covers. Marianne Faithfull sitting on a curved sofa inside a beautiful restaurant with a male customer looking on; A naked Bjork covered herself with big leaves and caught raindrops with her tongue; U2 at Joshua Tree National Park in California; Chris Martin sitting on a stairwell. A video of U2 singing “One,” using Audio Telex SA120 and Rockit HP 400 sound systems.

If you are in Auckland from now until March this year, and you happen to be a music afficionado, then come visit the Auckland Art Gallery and see the exhibition for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.


Who Shot Rock & Roll

until 3 March 2013

Auckland Art Gallery

Corner Kitchener and Wellesley Streets, Auckland

Ph: (09) 379 1349


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My name is Charica Roche, a writer, food lover, adventure seeker, color addict, and curious-driven person who truly believes in personal and spiritual growth. Writing helps me become a better person because it makes me feel grounded and it encourages me to be honest about things. Currently based in New Zealand, I'm constantly searching for and following my curiosities through books, art, music, dancing, and other aspects of a life well-lived through my own terms.

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