Rock and Roll Forever

Hedi Slimane at The Yves Saint Laurent Foundation: Rock n’ Roll Forever

An exhibit of curated photos from Hedi Slemane at the Fondation Pierre Berge et Yves Saint Laurent is like time travel to when music and rockers were the lifestyle everyone wanted back in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and even the 1980s. Trouble is, these photos are all from the last 5 or so years.
but they have the patina of a time in the past. Perhaps that’s the idea.

It is a very specific and curated vision of what this lifestyle is like from an outsiders point of view. In this case, a young designer who has a talent for choosing subjects and the eye of a creative director. He has managed to put a few real rockers in the exhibit to give it some validity such as Keith Richards or Jerry Lee, or if you count Kurt Cobain’s stuffed monkey and some appearances by other bits of famous rockers “pieces and parts” that lend an air of irreverance and whimsey. Amusing, but rather obvious.

What doesn’t work here, is the mixture of real and faux images. The truth is, the rock scene that Hedi wants us to envision is really no longer here. It has passed on to a higher place in our memories (especially so for those of us who lived through it already) so there is nothing new in recreating the past. This does not mean that the exhibit is entirely without merit. What would have worked better for Mr. Slimane is to record what he already knows about deeply: the idea of timeless youths who have joined the armies of universal timeless youths; it’s a right of passage that still means something.

There will always be another rock band, another fan, another girl, or a guy with a guitar, or backstage moment as these stories will always be told; the faces have just changed. Mr. Slimane’s powerful recording of today’s fans, with their boyish blank stares into space or their wistful glances at the viewer are very poignant as they realize they have a huge amount of life in front of them; The portraits of musical artists who are just emerging onto the scene or from the recent past are the most arresting. Perhaps, it is because they record this brief moment in a life or career that could blow out in an instant. A wistfullnes comes from their realization that they may just end up with rather ordinary lives as car mechanics, video store clerks or gas pump jockeys their past behind them. So there is a dark side to all this rocker scene, always in the background of these images.

Once you walk through the gallery you end up at a dark room where you are shown a slide show. Mr. Slimane has been able to go where few of have access so these images are the most arresting. It doesn’t take long before you realize that he is very close to becoming a film director. I would really like to see what happens when he takes his talents and unique vision into this arena. I think it will be an easy transition for him to take his work to a 360 experience and that is a journey I would like to go on as he puts a strong story behind his choice of images. Of course, no review would be complete without mentioning that the designs of YSL perhaps at their most unique since the death of Yves Saint Laurent. Mr. Slmane’s vision plays well in bringing back the 1970s luster to one of the great French names of fashion history. I have many memories of peering into the window of the original LEFT BANK shop window at the originals. The esprit, is back.

All photos by Heidi Slemane

Featured photo of Keith Richards and Paris building by Pikke Allen/Artifice

Artifice photos cannot be reproduced without license permissions.