Who Shot Rock & Roll?
“Do you need your parking validated?”
Grating tectonic collisions gave way to the polished-aluminum tubes extending skyward in well-rehearsed symmetry. Neatly trimmed hairstyles, denoting intellectual capacity and MBA achievement, decorate coffee shop and conference room alike. Within the thicket of corporate team players and Excel worksheets is an environment reserved for suits.
But what about Rock & Roll?
The Annenberg Space for Photography kneels before these office tubes, unassuming but proud. “Do you need your parking validated?” Manning the front desk sat two women smiling in convivial secrecy. ‘You’re in for a treat’, two pairs of eyes assure, ‘just wait!’ A quick parking validation, an amiable smile, and my companion and I are gently encouraged towards the introductory video.
It is my newly-adopted, firm belief that every cultural showcase (boutique or publicly funded) should provide mandatory video prologue. For the ‘Who Shot Rock & Roll?’ exhibition, the showing was intensely relevant: a chronological tale of musical maturation, firsthand anecdotes from the photographers themselves, and a genuine, if brief, documentation of Western pop culture. The video injected the static photograph with a frenetic context flavored by emotional or historical perspective.
Dismayed at the film’s expert quality, we were set loose as if outlaws mid-heist. The Goods, and they were good- established a collage of photograph, text, and spasmodic video. For lack of a better description, the circular viewing room is the nucleus, while an outer-layered hallway displays the majority of work. Repeatedly throughout my personal tour, the feeling of exploring a UFO bubbled past my subconscious: meticulously white space, endless curvature, and glimpses into a history littered with outlandishly unpredictable behavior. These finite snapshots of time present various degrees of accessibility- some completely alien (think Marilyn Manson nude, envisioned as a pinup modelm with smeared blood on chest)- others more inviting (a dapper Elvis clutching guitar).
It’s a frictional experience, as there’s limited space and a disproportionate number of probing minds. With a frozen artist lineup more impressive than any major music festival, the exhibition boasts Mick Jagger’s predatory alter-ego, Cobain’s backstage tears, and Bjork’s sportive nudeness. In sincere honesty, it is a fool’s errand to categorize such an eclectic collection in a sentence- or paragraph. If you are a human being with pulse, inquiry, or sonic appreciation, you will discover ‘Who Shot Rock & Roll?’ to be otherworldly fascinating and worthwhile.
And did I mention the ludicrously cheap parking fee? $3.50 with validation, thus leaving you cash to celebrate Museum Day accordingly.