Just got back from seeing the Leee Black Childers photography exhibit at Lethal Amounts 6 hours ago, and I’m still amped up now! It was really… well, let’s just say that I expected a mere rock and roll remembrance party, an excuse to get out of the house and see friends for a few minutes after being sick as a dog for days.
But I wound up seeing art on the walls–real art, the kind that makes you think about flashbulbs and shadows, and the meaning of life, and everything in between! I know, so many photographers do great work, and I love rock photography, but not in the way I love, say, good quality album cover art. I tend to think of rock and roll photography as propaganda at best, or rock documentary at second best.
And sure, Childers’ photos do the job in that sense, chronicling some important moments in the lives of the Sex Pistols or Debbie Harry that are fascinating for music fans and probably helped sell the legend at the time. But there is something…. luminous about these prints, something that transcends rock gods and goddesses and goes far beyond what was required for their stardom alone. There’s a sheen here, even in the grit, something almost 30s, but from the silver screen, not the silver screen test. Leee’s art commands you not just to think of its subjects, but about its proper place (and your proper place, as a participant by viewing) in the pantheon of things that can be hung on walls, or made into attention-seeking visual tidbits, or how this compares to any endeavor beyond sleeping and eating! I hate to make this a competition, but I really feel like the black and whites I saw tonight of David Bowie, the Adverts, the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Candy Darling, etc, etc, were so magical that they put some of my other favorites, like Henry Diltz and Annie Leibovitz, to shame!
Here’s the craziest part, folks… I now own one of these prints! They were all priced to sell, and my favorite was less than $200, including frame! And I get to pick it up in a month. O, to always be able to see these lovely, LSD-fueled beauties hung in my house! Every time I go brush my teeth, every time I go pick up my dog’s poo from the living room, it’s like I’ll be in New York in the early 70s with these gender-bending beauties:
P.S. Bonus points to anyone who can find what piece of literature or liner-note it is where David or Jayne discuss actually being on acid in the above picture! I know it’s true, but only my memory, and not the printed page, are backing me up at the moment.