Friday, June 22, 2007

OTM Press: Mail & Guardian.

Fokofpolisiekar framed

Photographer Liam Lynch has spent years hounding South Africa’s radical rockers. Now his images are on exhibition, writes Lloyd Gedye

hen photographing a animal like Fokofpolisiekar it is easy to go straight for the obvious sex, drugs and rock’n’roll myth, but photographer Liam Lynch is more interested in the whirlwind of emotions that come to the fore when the band members are off stage.

Lynch has been documenting Fokofpolisiekar since its inception in 2003 and his latest exhibition Open to Misinterpretation, which has been chosen to open the new Rooke Gallery in Newtown on June 28, takes the audience into the band’s deeply personal backstage territory.

Open to Misinterpretation is Lynch’s attempt to tell the story of Fokof’s tumultuous ride last year. A year that included drummer Jaco Venter fracturing his elbow, upper arm and hip after jumping from a moving car in Witbank; a successful tour of Europe; a critically lauded album Swanesong; and the now infamous “Fok God” incident, in which a scrawled message on a wallet riled religious communities across the country.

Lynch says the chaos that was 2006 took its toll on the band and as the cracks began to appear before his eyes, he realised that this was the story he had to tell.

“I was interested in the way that the off shoots said so much more than the portraits and the live shots,” says Lynch. “How the desperation and low moments shone through.”

During the process in which Lynch and the band reviewed the pictures for the exhibition, Fokof often chose to assign lyrics to the images. Lynch was initially uncomfortable with this until songwriter Hunter Kennedy told him that, ultimately, the lyrics and the photographs told the same story. “You were photographing what I was writing about,” Kennedy told him.

Lynch faced an internal struggle with the personal nature of his photographs, trying to ascertain whether what he was creating was a documentary, or whether there was too much of his interpretation in the images.

Ultimately, Open to Misinterpretation is a gonzo account of a rock band coming apart at the seams, a document of Fokof being pulled in a million directions at the same time and the resulting desperation and disillusionment that set in.

Open to Misinterpretation opens on June 28 at the Rooke Gallery, 37 Quinn Street, Newtown, Johannesburg, and will run for at least a month. The opening will include an address by Rian Malan and Fokofpolisiekar bassist Wynand Myburgh. The opening is by invitation only. Interested parties can register at

Heathen outcasts

Except for being the only photographer we ever chose to use, Liam has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. He’s a workaholic and he is one of us.

His camera is an inseparable part of him that we never questioned or doubted and thus we were never intimidated or forced to pose in the traditional sense of the word.

Early in 2006 Wynand (our bassist) phoned Liam to confirm his loyalty, unaware of the unholy shit that would hit the fan a few months later.

Our faith and friendship in Liam allowed him to capture a part of us, unseen by the general public during our most vulnerable time spent as heathen outcasts.

His relentless attention to detail allowed us to view ourselves from a third person’s perspective.

That in itself is an opportunity few people, let alone groups ever get to experience. Liam’s contribution to who and what we are is invaluable.

Open To Misinterpretation gives us a sense of finality to a unique experience. We all need closure. In many ways Liam’s accounts are the only ones we have and trust. -- Hunter Kennedy

Original article to be found here.



Blogger Musa Nxumalo said...

This is very inspirational...I constantly try to get a band that I can develop such a relationship with doesn't work.

Maybe in time it'll all hit me on my face. This obsession got more emphasized after seeing Any Leibovitz documentary and the experience she had with the Rolling Stones…

This article gives me an inch of what it takes to take-up an assignment like this.

“Except for being the only photographer we ever chose to use, Liam has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement. He’s a workaholic and he is one of us.”

Determination, hard work and trust, is it what it takes-?


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