James Mollison Shoots the Disciples of Rock

Wandering through Chelsea the other day, I bumped into Bill Hunt of the Hasted-Hunt Gallery, who was loitering on the sidewalk in front of his establishment. He invited me up to sneak a look at some work by photographer James Mollison that will debut at the gallery in June. Mollison is best known for his 2004 book “James Other Apes,” a brilliant series of tightly cropped portraits of gorillas, chimps, and orangutans. The new work is very different, but only in a manner of speaking: Essentially M

Wandering through Chelsea the other day, I bumped into Bill Hunt of the Hasted-Hunt Gallery, who was loitering on the sidewalk in front of his establishment. He invited me up to sneak a look at some work by photographer James Mollison that will debut at the gallery in June. Mollison is best known for his 2004 book "James & Other Apes," a brilliant series of tightly cropped portraits of gorillas, chimps, and orangutans. The new work is very different, but only in a manner of speaking: Essentially Mollison is comparing and contrasting different species. In this case, however, the subjects of his portraits are rock fans. Mollison has been making simple portraits of people at rock concerts, which he then stitches together into panoramic images. Of course the fun part is guessing which concerts these various tribes have just attended. The people in the image above, for instance, have just seen a Rob Stewart show. The people below are big Jimmy Buffet fans. In his ape pictures, Mollison invited us to view groups of animals as individuals; in this work, he asks us to looks at individuals as members of larger groups. By doing so, he reveals the tribalism that has always been part of rock and roll idolatry.—David Schonauer