Shanghai. May 2012. (c) Andy Summers
Andy Summers shared a love for both music and photography from as early as the late 1970s. As the guitarist in one of the biggest bands of the 20th century – The Police – his photography became an extension of his music.
While the band toured the world, Summers documented behind the scenes, giving an intimate, personal and unique point of view that could not be captured by hired press. Much later, after The Police stopped touring and stopped making music as a band, Summers produced with Taschen (2007) “I’ll Be Watching You: Inside The Police 1980-1983.” His first photography book of the band and their travels was “Throb” (William Morrow & Company, 1983), currently out of print. Since the band’s demise, Summers has been productive in both solo music projects and photography, the latter of which has extended his art to numerous exhibitions, magazine essays, photography publications and recently, keynote presentations of his work.
For his exhibition at Leica Los Angeles, Summers presents his global travels through a series of striking black and white portraits. You won’t find any images of music in this project, instead we see people and places and gritty raw realities of people’s lives in many parts of Asia.
I spoke to Andy about his upcoming exhibition in Los Angeles, his use of Leica and his photographic process.
GL: Tell me about your upcoming exhibition at Leica Gallery Los Angeles and what we can expect to see?
AS: I am pleased to be exhibiting at the new Leica gallery in LA, as I have been a Leica photographer for many years now. Therefore, to show in the new and first Leica gallery in LA is a distinct pleasure and seems fitting. All the photos in the show are shot with Leica and will be a selection from around the world in the last few years.
GL: When did your love affair with photography, and in particular Leica, begin?
AS: My true pursuit of photography began in the early eighties. I used a Reflex cameras as I started out but switched to the Leica Rangefinder a couple of years later when introduced to it by Ralph Gibson.
GL: From the images I’ve seen in this exhibition, people feature in many of them. Is this a conscious point of view?
AS: There is no conscious shooting of people; it would depend on the situation and if it ignites something in me.
GL: What is your method in setting up an image? Is it a fleeting visit and taking photographs of what you see, and/or do you enter into dialogue with your subject for background information?
AS: It can be both. The real preparation is the effort that one puts into developing photography skills over the years, or seeing photographic possibilities as part of some larger progression.
GL: Which city, town or country has been your most inspiring place to photograph so far?
AS: The inspiration for a photograph is not tied to one town or city, but rather something could be anywhere that grabs one’s visual imagination.
GL: Which photographers have and still do inspire you?
AS: Ralph Gibson, Robert Frank, Lee Friedlander, Henri Cartier Bresson.
GL: From your upcoming exhibition in Los Angeles, can you choose an image to describe its subject matter and creative process?
AS: I wouldn’t pick out one; rather I would say that they are all facets of the process. First being in a situation that is visually stimulating and that may involve shooting rapidly or waiting for a scene to develop visually, i.e., the shapes become better inside the frame, the light improves or whatever it is that you recognize as more compelling.
GL: What more can we expect to see from your photography in 2014?
AS: No doubt I will travel with my Leica monochromatic and see what comes up…more images from China, probably.
“Andy Summers – Del Mondo” opens at the Leica Gallery Los Angeles with an opening reception on November 9, 2013 from 6pm – 8pm and the exhibition runs to January 4, 2014. Andy Summers will present an artist talk on December 14 at 6pm.
Leica Gallery Los Angeles
8783 Beverly Blvd.
West Hollywood CA 90048
See also: www.andysummers.com
About the interviewer:
Ginger Liu is a contributing editor to Ragazine.CC. You can read more about her in “About Us.”
The US media is going crazy about director-actress spats in Blue is the Warmest Color. Lets make something very clear. In Hollywood actors are afraid to complain and bitch to the press about their director. It would be career suicide. You’ve seen all the boring press junkets with the same lines spoken by every Hollywood actor – “It was the greatest experience of my life,” “I loved working with him.” It’s all publicty bullshit. You don’t get to hear about what really went on until years after. Now here we have French actresses in a foreign country saying what they like without Hollywood restrictions.
Director Abdellatif Kechiche’s lesbian masterpiece Blue is the Warmest Color walked away with not one Palme d’Or earlier this year but in a first for the Cannes festival, the two leading actresses were awarded one of the film worlds most prestigious prizes.
Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux performances are quite breathtaking in their realism and their warmth as characters who happen to be both lesbians. For this is a first love and love lost story which anyone can relate to. The films three hours doesn’t seem to be enough as Kechiche draws us in to Adele’s ordinary life in high school, love at first sight, her sexual orientation, immersion into Seydoux’s artist life, her own work as a school teacher and a perhaps inevitable break up as their two different worlds collide.
What is freshest of all is the depiction of lesbian life. It’s sexual, it’s ordinary, it’s domestic and sometimes secret. But while Kechiche’s story is about two women in love, the being gay factor doesn’t dictate plot. There are no deaths or lesbian vampires. What I loved about the film and Adele’s character were the similarities in my growing up and coming out. The sex and the domesticity are all too familiar but so is keeping part of ones life a secret.
And what about the talked about ten minute sex scene? Well, I can understand the length as Kechiche’s other scenes are also long and involved so skipping past these scenes would put it out of whack. But after five minutes I did start to feel distracted. These sex scenes because they are sex scenes don’t draw us into the plot or the characters. We get it. We know they are having sex, lets get back to the story.
Blue is the Warmest Color is still doing the rounds of the festival circuit but will be on general release in cinemas in October, a fact that has prevented it from qualifying in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards next year. Exarchopoulos and Seydoux however, could be in contention for Best Actress Oscarsbut we will have to wait and see.
Blue is the Warmest Color – US release October 25th
To celebrate 125 years of the National Geographic magazine excellence in photography and environmental storytelling, the Annenberg Space for Photography is curating what promises to be one of the largest multimedia exhibitions of its kind with hundreds of images on display: including print, digital instillations and documentary films. The sheer scale of the exhibition, which coincides with October’s National Geographic’s commemorative magazine, will no doubt warrant more than one visit.
I spoke to Patricia Lanza, Director of Talent and Content at Annenberg Space for Photography, about possibly one of the largest photography exhibitions of its kind.
GL: Congratulations on putting together and presenting what appears to be a rather dauntingly large exhibition of photography and multimedia. The sheer numbers of images on display, the videos and film – to actually whittle it down to 400 historical images from the National Geographic and the 500-plus images in the digital installation must have been a long, yet enjoyable process.
How long has the planning taken?
PL: The planning has taken over a year.
GL: Are the images categorized in the their own subheadings: such as people, country, endangered, photographer, etc?
PL: The images are in thematic sections:
America (general themes)
and the October 2103 Issue. October is the anniversary month for both National Geographic Magazine and the National Geographic Society, so there will be images from one of the world’s greatest repositories of photojournalism, as well as new material being commissioned for the October issue of the magazine.
GL: Is there any indication from this huge exhibition that the printed edition of National Geographic is coming to a close?
PL: No. This exhibition was a way to show some of the scope and depth of National Geographic’s 125-year collection – not just the iconic images but whole stories. NGS is famous for its storytelling journalism and this is a spectacular way of highlighting that.
GL: Will we learn of future developments within National Geographic from this exhibition?
PL: This is a very innovative and forward-looking way to experience an exhibition. Nophotography exhibition has been done on this scale in this way, mainly because until now, the technology for presentation on video screens wasn’t up to the quality of displaying it on a video monitor. This opens the door for a different way to experience photography of this caliber.
GL: What do you hope people will learn from The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years?
PL: The importance of having a photographic history of all forms of life on earth and beyond; the importance of how photography can alter your way of thinking and start a dialogue and the importance and immeasurable value of what photography and photojournalism contribute to our awareness and our consciousness.
GL: Thank you for your time. I can’t wait to see the exhibition.
Annenberg Space for Photography Presents
The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years
October 26, 2013 – April 27, 2014
Open free to the public, Wednesdays thru Sundays.
Please check website for hours, transportation and parking directions.
Iris Night Lecture Series free to public on first come-first served basis.
All Iris Night Lectures take place in our new Skylight Studios located across
the lawn from the Photography Space.
This interview also appears in Ragazine.cc
Ginger Liu is a Photographer/Filmmaker/Writer. Based in Los Angeles, she travels extensively and is a long-time contributor to Ragazine.CC. You can read more about her in About Us, and on her blog and website and on Flickr.