“I keep telling people I’m not a music photographer. I photograph people. I photograph people who are touched by music and I photograph people who perform it. And because of how I’m touched by it, I’m inspired by those who make it”, said South African photographer, Liam Lynch, at the Bioscope in Johannesburg on Saturday, 2 April.
This formed one of the main points of Liam Lynch Talks, one out of a series of talks by South African artists which the Bioscope is set to host. It created an intimate setting in which Lynch spoke about the work that launched his reputation as well as the concepts and projects Lynch is currently working on.
The presentation started with the music video for Fokofpolisiekar’s “Ek Skyn Heilig” which was constructed from a series of black and white photographs Lynch took whilst on tour with the band before Fokofpolisiekar split. According to Lynch the story became personal to him and led to his first solo exhibition. “It basically made me comfortable with the idea of calling myself an artist because I suddenly realized that you can get away with a lot more as an artist then you can as a documentarian. I felt that you couldn’t tell accurate stories. There is stuff that can only be revealed with extra information.”
Lynch’s move from documentary photography to his own lyrical or poetical aesthetic took form as he presented a series of photographs he took covering the Felabration in Nigeria. The music festival is a tribute to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’s contribution to the African music industry as well as a promotion of the Afrobeat genre. Lynch animatedly discussed his experience photographing legendary Afrobeat artists, trying not to dehydrate in the heat of the festival and trying to maintain his focus with a rather forward woman nibbling at his ear. “These guys were incredible. They partied at least as hard as Fokofpolisiekar, if not more so.”
Concerning contemporary debates surrounding photography as an art form, Lynch said he was opposed to the idea of the artistry solely lying in the region of conceptualizing and reworking and presentation of images. “We’re starting to want people to just accept photography as the actual taking of the picture. That moment that makes it art and not everything that comes before and everything that comes after.”