Among my photographic styles, I’ve spent many years documenting musicians and performers in Australia and abroad. Eventually I settled on the best way to present them: printing directly onto recycled vinyl, the very source of the music. An exhibition in Melbourne mid-1996, and shown in New York in 1997, Who Said Vinyl Is Dead? was the outcome. The record as a surface to print on is very exciting because the grooves become part of the image. The photographic emulsion can be painted, poured or smeared on to give a grittier surface – there’s a rawness that somehow embodies more honestly the essence and atmosphere of photographing a live performance.
Who Said Vinyl is Dead? Catalogue Essay
Who said vinyl is dead? Melbourne artist/photographer Pam Kleemann, after more than a decade of photographing local and international musicians and artists has discovered a unique medium on which to imprint that otherwise intangible image of the essence of live music performance: recycled vinyl discs.
By using a lengthy process of painting liquid light emulsion directly onto the vinyl the photographic image comes alive as an effigy capturing the very moment of creative expression. Not the clean, slick images we are used to seeing in commercial pop music or even the polished finishes of jazz portraits but raw, gritty textured layers where the picture speaks for what you hear and feel – the unexpected, the exhilarating, the magic which moves the soul or makes you dance.
These stunning images include portraits of the legendary MANU DIBANGO, the first musician to bring African jazz to Europe in the 1960s, his intense concentration snapped at SOB’s in New York in 1994…or Nigerian reggae eccentric MAJEK FASHEK, in a sublime moment of ecstasy at the Metro in Melbourne in 1993… Zairean chanteuse M’BILIA BEL… Cuban son sensations SIERRA MAESTRA… JIMMY CLIFF, LUCINDA WILLIAMS as well as Australian performers including STEPHEN CUMMINGS, RUBY HUNTER, SHANE HOWARD and more… all photographed as explosions of emotion immortalised on the groove.
This is a unique opportunity to see photographic art which not only documents music culture as a personal medium but also dissolves the boundaries between western rock culture and what we refer to as ‘world music’ by glimpsing the universal shades of black and white which make music so irresistible to everyone.
Vikki Riley © 1996
Liquid Light emulsion on 12” vinyl LPs and 7” singles
2000 – Centre for Creative Photography, Adelaide South Australia
1997 – 17 Creations Gallery, New York City USA
1996 – Blue Moon Records, Melbourne Australia
All works copyright The Artist 1996/1997