Before Kim Kardashian’s waxed derriere broke the internet, Beyoncé created serious cyber waves when she unexpectedly dropped her fifth self titled audio-visual album in 2013 by announcing it on Instagram, breaking the internet…or iTunes at least.
This album isn’t merely an homage to the days when albums were a complete experience like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, it indicates the growing control musicians have over their image. During the recording process Beyoncé collated images that she felt resonated with the tracks and instead of releasing an audio album, she utilised various directors to help make her vision a reality.
The widespread use of social media sites like instagram and twitter has enabled musicians to craft their own image and share personal stills and videos of their gigs creating an intimate connection with fans. This shift in control has made the genre of music photography difficult to define because works aren’t just commercially commissioned, they are initiated by the musicians or photographers.
Stars now employ high profile photographers in order to capture and create their alter egos exemplified by Lady Gaga when acclaimed photography duo, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, presented five disguised portraits of her for ArtRave, 2013.
No other artist has embodied the new relationship between musican and photographer than South African rap-rave group Die Antwoord by working with renowned photographer Roger Ballen for their 2012 video I Fink U Freeky. Since its upload to youtube, the video has received 55 million hits and counting, featuring stunning imagery, scenes and photographic work by Ballen. The addition of Die Antwoords contagious beats and fusion of hip-hop, rap and rave have made the video a critical success.
Ballen’s work with Die Antwoord has inspired the book; ‘I Fink U Freeky’, a collection of images that completed the video as well as a shots from behind the scenes and an interview between Ballen and the group.
We Want More is an exhibition by the Photographer’s Gallery examining the change in this industry. It presents works from aforementioned artists as well as a range of music videos made by photographers including Tom Beard, Pacify for FKA Twigs (2013), Bison, Wasting My Young Years for London Grammar (2013) and many more.
Curated by Diane Smyth, Deputy Editor of the British Journal of Photography, this exhibition will also feature special talks, live events and performances as well as a ‘special edition of The Wire magazine’s regular Salon event, considering the visual aesthetics of underground and experimental music scenes.’ It will run until September 20.