On the occasion of Anton Corbijn’s U2 & I book publication, TORCH Gallery is pleased to present U2 & I, the exhibition.
Give it a try. Close your eyes and recall a name, U2. Woven with some famous songs’ bits and pieces, an unmistakable feeling -if not a particular image- will most probably take over. For more than two decades, Anton Corbijn has been responsible for most of U2’s public imagery and the mental sketch arising from this exercise of voluntary recollection should prove how much our collective memory of recent -pop- history has been shaped by his relentless artistic production. U2 & I. The photographs 1982-2004 constitutes a visual fresco of U2’s transformation from band to myth and –furthermore- a piece of our own collective imaginary’s becoming. As it reveals both U2’s personal and public changing faces through time, this recently published book accounts for Corbijn’s personal, artistic and social phenomenon. From his 1972’s first publications in the Dutch rock magazine OOR to his last self portraits, his career constitutes a particularly interesting study case of self-made myth building. For himself and others, Anton is a visionary and meticulous myth-maker. In one of the many interesting written contributions to U2 & I, Bono says: “I love [Corbijn’s pictures] because they are revealing. You know it was Oscar Wilde who said: ‘The mask reveals the man’. You can see people dressing up at Halloween or at costume balls and a whole other side of people comes out. So I think that you’re very good at two things; letting us be completely who we are and challenging us to be somebody whom we’re not, yet.” As the TORCH exhibition invitation card ‘the two amigos’ picture seems to instantly reveal, images are playful artefacts and we should more often be looking under the hat. What makes so powerful this and so many others of Corbijn’s representations is less their aesthetic indexing of their subject as their creation of an added, transcending meaning. Corbijn does not take pictures, he invents them. Anton doesn’t portrait people, he gives them birth again, elsewhere.
So, I would say: Give it a try, open your eyes and recall one name, Anton Corbijn’s.
Catherine Somzé, Amsterdam 2005