Exhibition Visit – May 2015
Kevin Cummins work in this exhibition documents members of the band New Order in a very close and personal manner. Captured on film, the band is pictured in a variety of contexts ranging from very evocative live concert images through to candid tour pictures. Cummins I believe was trusted confidant of the band and as a result he must have had significant access to bend members allowing him to create such an intimate body of work documenting members of the band from the formation in 1980 to their eventual split in the late 1980’s.
The images of candid moments are very engaging but I was particularly drawn to another dimension of the work. These where the clearly staged and posed photographs, perhaps intended for album covers or promotional material, This work had a classical quality that stood out in the body of work and perhaps says far more about the photographers style, motive and intent than the rest of the exhibition.
There is a variety of images in the exhibition, but it is held together through the predominant use of monochrome, Cummins use of quite high contrast exposure also adds to the coherence of the work. The exhibition links to the publication by Rizolli of Cummins new book, New Order.
The prints are a mix of formats predominately on 6×6 with some 35mm and they have all been printed at 16”x16 or 16”x20”. Almost all of the images were printed showing the edge of the negative, thus identifying the film stock. Most were printed on Silver Gelatin and with a smaller number of C type prints. The print quality was exceptional as was the overall presentation and framing. The prints were also for sale at the exhibition and started at about £1800, Cummins work obviously commands a high value.
There are a small number of colour prints, mostly 35mm. The quality of the printing is impressive given the small negative and large prints. In almost all cases the prints show the edge of the film allowing the viewer to see what format and film stock was used.
What did I learn from this exhibition?
Well, I was impressed with how well the 35mm shots printed to a large scale, the use of ‘spot on’ exposure and slow colour film stock really demonstrated high quality use of this medium. It would be good to see some of the contact sheets (there were only two in the exhibition) to get a sense of how many shots were taken to achieve the finished results. Also there were some great examples of staged band shots. There we some ideas that I will try and incorporate into my own work. The candid shots also caught some pensive moments suggesting the photographer was able to capture moments on film without overly influence the environment be recorded. Again much to learn from this.