We Want More. Image-Making and Music in the 21st Century

17 Jul 2015 – 20 Sep 2015

The Photographers' Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Just off Oxford Street so accessible by bus services to Oxford Street and a 2 minute walk from Oxford Circus Tube Station.

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We Want More explores photography’s role in defining music culture today. Both industries have seen a significant change to ideas about ownership and distribution, caused by the advent of digital technologies.


The frameworks that created a distance between photographers, fans, stars and their labels have collapsed, allowing new ways for music photography to be produced, shared and consumed.

The new platforms for production and display, including the rise of the photobook and zines - inexpensive to produce and easy to disseminate - are explored through works such as Dan Wilton’s self-published zine STOB EHT (2012). It follows Los Angeles based indie rock-band The Bots capturing moments of boredom and play during their ten-day tour of Europe.

The shift in control from industry to image-makers and the stars themselves has led to a change in aesthetics. Stars choose to work with a range of high profile photographers to create alter egos, eschewing the traditional celebrity shoot in favour of high concept imagery. These include Ryan Enn Hughes’ series Katy Perry, Birthday Gifs (2014) presenting the singer in five comical disguises and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin’s Lady Gaga (2014), where the performer is depicted in portraits ranging from angelic to gruesome. 

Despite the rise in images taken by fans, backstage and behind the scenes access still provides photographers with an element of exclusivity. Daniel Cohen’s We Want More (2010) shows singers and bands just before the encore. Pep Bonet’s images, taken from his series Röadkill – Motörhead (2012), are shot from the stage, showing the crowd from the band’s perspective while Deirdre O'Callaghan’sproject The Drum Thing (2013) documents drummers lost in music during practice sessions.

Ewen Spencer’s UKG (1999- 2000) depicts crowds at UK Garage nights and William Coutts’ Trash Talk (2013) focuses on the violent, visceral experience of the mosh pit and its sweaty, hyped up or burnt out aftermath. Ryan McGinley’s You and My Friends 6 (2013) and Gareth McConnell’s Close your Eyes (2013) present close-ups of faces of festival goers and dance music fans in Ibiza. Additionally James Mollisons’ The Disciples (2011) and Lorena Turner’s The Michael Jacksons (2009) show fans dressing up or taking on the persona of their idols.

The exhibition also includes music videos created by photographers, including Roger Ballen, I Fink U Freeky by Die Antwoord (2012); Tom Beard, Pacify by FKA Twigs (2013); Bison,Wasting My Young Years by London Grammar (2013); Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Darkest Place by Woman’s Hour (2014);Anton Corbijn, Reflektor by Arcade Fire (2013); Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, You and I and Applause by Lady Gaga (2013) andSeamus Murphy, Words That Maketh Murder, from a series of 12 short films for PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake (2012).

We Want More explores contemporary image-making and music culture, a rich new space where musicians, artists, photographers and audiences exchange and collaborate; not just asking, but demanding more. 

The exhibition is curated by Diane Smyth and will be accompanied by a special programme of talks, events and live performances. This includes a special edition of The Wire magazine's regular Salon event, considering the visual aesthetics of underground and experimental music scenes.

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