Seminal rock portraits of iconic British band Joy Division celebrated at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014
Kevin Cummins’ series of iconic rock music photographs have been chosen by the curators of the British Pavilion for the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014. The images, originally published by Paul Stolper Gallery, will feature in an exhibition that seeks to highlight the diverse cultural influences, across music, art and popular culture, that were shaped by British Modernism over the last 100 years. The exhibition responds to the theme of 'Absorbing Modernity: 1914-2014,’ set by Director of Architecture, Rem Koolhaas for the national pavilions.
Kevin Cummins’ world-renowned photographs of Joy Division are defining images of one of the most influential rock bands to emerge from Great Britain in the late 1970s. Shot in monochrome, these potent images capture the intensity and intimacy of the band’s unique sound against the architectural landscape of the city of Manchester.
Speaking about the 2014 British Pavilion, curators of the exhibition, 'A Clockwork Jerusalem', Sam Jacob of FAT Architecture and Wouter Vanstiphout of Crimson Architectural Historians, said:
“Kevin’s pictures of Joy Division in Hulme are iconic images. As he has said, they are not pictures of a band but of space. Through them we see Manchester’s Hulme estate through both his lens and the bands imaginative vision. The British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is a show about the way visions have both shaped and been shaped by modernity. From William Blake, through the Garden Cities to the post war ‘New Jerusalem’ it explores how architecture and planning have created new worlds and how these new worlds came to be inhabited. Kevin’s photographs are key to this story, and we’re delighted to be able to show them in the context of the Architecture Biennale.”
Kevin Cummins: Princess Parkway, Hulme, Manchester, 6 January 1979. Gelatin-silver print, 2006, From the portfolio Arca Published by Paul Stolper. Edition of 75, 40.6 x 50.8cm
The images are selected from the celebrated ‘Arca’ portfolio, published by Paul Stolper in 2006, consisting of 11 photographs of Joy Division and lead singer, Ian Curtis. The concept for the portfolio originated from Stolper's fascination with the groundbreaking photography of cult music magazine, the New Musical Express. Stolper commented: “I always loved the photographs in NME, the cheap paper with its grainy texture was the perfect backdrop for Kevin Cummins' stunning black and white photographs. They always looked like art. When I had the means I got in touch, through Peter Saville who I worked with, and suggested the portfolio. To present those iconic images as an art portfolio made perfect sense to me, and since publishing I have seen how influential they have become and how much they resonate with so many.”
Reflecting on the photograph’s ongoing influence Cummins said: “When photographing Joy Division, a virtually unknown band, on a freezing cold snowbound bridge in Hulme, Manchester on 6 January 1979, I assumed the resulting images would be printed in the following week's NME, then left to languish in the files. Yet each year they become more and more important in defining not only the band, but an era too. I always felt the shot on the bridge was an architectural shot of Manchester, with the band an adjunct to it. Yet when you look at that photograph, you know exactly what Joy Division sound like. It couldn't have worked with anyone else.”
Through Cummins' work for NME, the photographer captured an entire generation of British music in intimate detail and his portraits of influential bands ranging from Joy Division to Oasis are celebrated as the look and sound of post-Punk British music.
!The exhibition, A Clockwork Jerusalem will be open to the public throughout the duration of the Biennale, from 7 June to 23 November 2014, with a press preview from 5 to 6 June. Kevin Cummins and Paul Stolper are available for interview. For further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3463 2081