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Mick Rock- Exposed

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A life time of photographing legends has turned photographer Mick Rock into a legend himself. The British photographer cut his teeth capturing the intimacy behind closed doors of rock and roll’s most important players- early David Bowie, Syd Barrett, Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, Queen, Iggy Pop…the list is as impressive as it is endless. His latest exhibition at the Sumo Gallery at 37 Walker Street (which coincides with a book release), is like stepping into a time machine. With many never seen before photographs, each image is a window into the time when rock and roll was pure. Aside from posed shots, there are tons of Mick’s perfectly captured candids- ( my favorites-I love honing in on the details, like what they were eating or drinking, crumpled packaging, the looks of background people), as well as contemporary artists like Lady Gaga and Bono. Some say he was in the right place at the right time, but really, he was the only one allowed to be there. He joked “If I hadn’t gotten them, then they wouldn’t have been got.” The opposite of the posed shots from the frenzy of paparazzi, Mick captures real moments that leave the viewer feeling as though they’ve gotten a glimpse into the personalities of his famous subjects.

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Exposed juxtaposing Mick’s photos from the past and not-so-distant past, creating a visual comparison of rock stars of today and yesterday. Yet in Mick’s eyes, they remain the same. What separates Mick from other photographers is that when you look at his images, you lose all orientation of what year it is or where you are. As rock and roll becomes even more and more diluted to the point of total Pop, Mick can still see the carnal beast within- and somehow extracts the raw soul of today’s performers, forgetting that they are really a team of stylists, image consultants and wardrobe designers. Sometimes I look at rock and roll like our ever changing New York; gradually (and lately feverishly) it is becoming more and more commercialized. Rock dives become banks (or more polished under new owners), glass towers soar in historic areas, Starbucks is Starbucks and so is Walgreens; MTV doesn’t play music any more, auto tune is a thing, and everyone is a photographer with their iPhones and Instagram.

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Yet, despite this plastic and commercialism that has become the new normal, Mick is there to show you the real magic, to strip away the layers and layers of modern fakery and polish to reveal why we worship these people to begin with- pure, unadulterated, rock and roll energy.

The show runs until October 19, so get to Tribeca and experience the spirit you’ve been missing.

2 Responses to “Mick Rock- Exposed”
  1. Mick Rock’s photographs have helped define the image of rock ‘n’ roll, and have been featured on numerous album covers and in solo exhibitions around the world. He lives in New York City. Andrew Loog Oldham is an author and producer who co-managed and produced the Rolling Stones during the 19 and is responsible for early recordings by Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, Eric Clapton, and many others. He lives in Bogota, Columbia. Tom Stoppard is a playwright, author, and screenwriter whose work includes Rock ‘n’ Roll and The Coast of Utopia. He lives London.

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