Janette Beckman recently returned from LA, where her show “Archive of Attitude” is on view at Arkitip’s Project Space through September 5. Janette graciously agreed to talk about her work here.
Your “Archive of Attitude” is enormous! Please talk about how you curated this exhibition of work from the 70s and 80. What was your process for selecting images that defined the era ?
I met with Scott Sant’Angelo, the curator of the show and we decided to show some images that have not been seen before. This year I have been going through my negatives and finding new treasures (like the images of UB40, and Vaughn Toulouse see attachment) I printed some images that I had never printed before for the show – as well as some of the classics (Paul Weller & Pete Townshend and Run-DMC) We also thought it would be good to show some LA shots—some of my favorites are the Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E, the Mexican Gang Girls and Go-Go’s at the Tail of the Pup.
Also I made 2 new limited edition books specially for the show titled “Made in the UK 1982” and “Made in Los Angeles 1982.”
We approached some of the clothing companies like Kangol, Addidas and Doc Marten that are featured in the photographs and they sent some great clothes to display along with some of my personal “artifacts” such as various LP covers, the original Face magazine circa 1984 featuring my photo of Run-DMC. And my 1987 Def Jam jacket that has my name embroidered on the front!
How did you connect with Arkitip for this exhibition ?
A while ago I worked with Stefan Jeremias who wanted to use some of my punk photos in his documentary about 80s surf/youth culture—he showed the photos to his friennd Scott who loved them. This year my LA agent Jen di Sisto approached the gallery to do a show—and the rest is history.
What cultural connections do you see between London in the late 70s and New York City in the early 80s?
To me there is such a strong connection between the two cultures—both came from the kids on the street in bad economic times. Both were renaissance movements created in a spirit of rebellion against society inspiring new forms of music, poetry, art, dance, and style created by the bands and the fans. And all of this creative inspiration happened before MTV, the internet.
Looking back at your archive after all these years, what has been the most surprising thing about the way in which the public views
your work ?
When I was shooting for Melody Maker, The Face, and even record companies I felt as if I was documenting what was happening—not just the bands but the kids that followed them, the places, the streets, attitude—it was not about shooting celebrities or famous musicians—it was much more for me about hanging out and documenting the scene.
I think the public now really like that aspect of my work—and somehow those times seem to resonate with people who maybe grew up listening to a band like The Specials or Salt n Pepa.
I’ve always wondered: what is your favorite photo !?
That is a tough one—it varies from month to month I guess the shot of “Paul Weller & Pete Townshend standing outside the Marquee Club in London 1980” has to be one. “Run-DMC & posse” and “Roxanne Shante” are also favorites. I love the “Boo Yaa T.R.I.B.E on top of the roof in Los Angeles. “ I just discovered a great photo of the rockabilly group “Tenpole Tudor having a smoke before the gig in Dublin” that is on my wall right now.