Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Friends Forever

It's been nearly a decade since photographer Ryan Mc Ginley first burst onto the art scene with his evocative book entitled The Kids Are Alright, a series which led him a year later to receive the opportunity to be the youngest artist to be given a solo show at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art. Not bad for a 23 year old kid who started out snapping Polaroids of friends and plastering the walls of his East Village apartment with the pictures.

Since then, Mc Ginley's personal approach has developed immensely to create a signature style as he plunged headfirst into a world of liberation and hedonism. With a series of photographs depicting various youth cultures in heady, atmospheric visuals; his subjects relish in their state of acute awareness and savour in performing for the camera. The result is both striking and intimate, a documentation reminiscent of the works of Nan Goldin and Larry Clark.

Over the years, Mc Ginley has explored beyond portraiture and has made the natural transition to fashion photography, while still retaining his trademark style. For Wrangler's We Are Animals Campaign, Mc Ginley took heavy reference from his previous line of work as he presented a dark series of half-clothed models consumed by a wooded back-drop, a campaign which prompted a certain level of notoriety amongst consumers. Other highly publicized works include the ethereal series he did with fashion icon Kate Moss and the considerably more commercial campaign he produced with Tilda Swinton for Pringle, which saw the actress frolicking around the Scottish Highlands.

Mc Ginley's latest export finds the photographer returning to his roots. Friends Forever is a short, personal film, where Mc Ginley once again captures the youthful zeitgeist in his usual dreamy, fleeting aesthetic. Fusing music with a subtle nod towards fashion, the film provides an intimate portrait of two of America's most recent hyped-about bands, Smith Western and Girls and was shot during this year's Pitchfork Festival.

When asked about the back-story behind the visuals, Mc Ginley reveals all; “Smith Westerns and Girls are two of my favorite bands right now. I first saw Smith Westerns play at this restaurant in a weird little mall in Chinatown, and there were only about five people there. I liked how their hair was always covering their eyes and you could barely see their faces. They were so cute; it was almost like watching a high school band. Smith Westerns went on tour with a band called Girls who I immediately fell in love with, so much so that I sent the singer-songwriter Chris Owens my last photography book along with a fan letter. They covered their entire stage with flowers––I loved that. Their song “Solitude” speaks to me more than any other song I can think of right now. I caught up with both bands at the Pitchfork festival to document their performances and be a fly on the wall the whole weekend. That’s pretty much my idea of a perfect vacation. And it was."

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