Right now, at the Australian Centre for Photography in Sydney, you can catch an exhibition dedicated to music's capacity to connect us. Sense The Music, which runs from now until 29th of August, is a collaboration between two acclaimed photographers, Ruth Medjber and Macleay Heriot.
Medjber and Heriot first began their collaboration over the phone, a necessity given the great distance between them: Medjber is based in Ireland, and Heriot in Sydney. During those early conversations, they talked about the challenges of capturing a great gig through still photographs, and shared memories of their own experiences pressed up against the crowd barrier, staring up at icons like Arcade Fire and Boy George.
From those early conversations came a desire to communicate the human element of the music industry. In that way, Medjber's photographs highlight the faces of concert-goers and revellers. Her work captures the ecstasy of a great gig from the point of view of those standing in the crowd, and her photographs of young fans staring up at Irish pop sensation Hozier are all about exploring the peculiar -- and intense -- connection between fan and performer.
By contrast, Heriot's work focuses more on the creatives themselves. His bold and striking portraits of Portgual. The Man and one-time members of The Preatures are paeans to the people who make music. Working in black and white, with simple but elegant set-ups, Heriot's skill lies in his attention for detail, and his ability to communicate an entire person through but a few still images.
Taken together, both Heriot and Medjber's work highlight the importance of live music in our lives. Indeed, live music matters now more than ever -- the coronavirus pandemic has altered the music industry in general, and the touring industry in particular, halting gigs and forcing musicians to offer livestreamed concerts in their place. The photographs of Heriot and Medjber are reminders of what once was, and a bold reassertion of the ways that live music matters.
To that end, Sense The Music provides fans of both photography and contemporary pop and rock an opportunity to reminisce about the great power of live music -- the things that can happen when a great performer takes to the stage, and starts making art.
Image: Maclay Heriot, John Gourley, Portugal. The Man, Terminal 5, NYC, from Portugal. The Man WO.5808 R.8202 series, 2018.