By Exhibition Curator, Gail Buckland
Who Shot Rock and Roll opened at the Brooklyn Museum late in October 2009. Thousands turned out for the opening with live music by Blondie. We were all ready for a rock & roll party after the economic downturn and other depressing news. It is amazing how great photographs of one of the most significant social revolutions of all time can make spirits soar.
The Annenberg Space for Photography's hosting of the exhibition may be the last venue on a nine-museum tour across America. There is always something special about the East Coast/West Coast - the country’s bookends - connection. But, rock & roll is a powerful thread that unites all segments of the nation.
At almost every venue, people who never crossed the threshold of an art museum, entered and were entranced. Regular visitors discovered, or rediscovered, that great photography - no matter what the subject - is also great art. And, people asked me, over and over again, “why hasn’t there been an exhibition like this before?”
The answer lies, in part, because I chose the photographs on their merit, not simply because of who was in them. My approach to curating Who Shot Rock and Roll is exactly the same as any other art exhibition I have organized - do the research; visit the artists; go through their archives; ask questions that have not been asked before; select photographs that are worthy of hanging on museum walls and inclusion in the larger histories of photography, art and culture; write a catalogue and wall labels that illuminate the subject and provide new information and insight into the pictures. Music photographers have been treated as outsiders. My mission is to acknowledge the enormous contribution of the men and women who photographed rock and gave it its image.
Who Shot Rock & Roll opens at the Annenberg Space for Photography on June 23, 2012.