What a great fit is this publication for the ‘Leisure’ themed summer issue of fLIP! With the festival season just underway, footage of festival events is currently appearing everywhere, with the Glastonbury anniversary no doubt taking centre stage this summer (check out Venetia Dean's exhibition of Glastonbury portraits now on display at the NPG).
Minien – a young emerging photographer trained in Britain and currently based in New York – presents in his book a series of images taken at music festivals on both sides of the Atlantic over a period of 14 years. Glastonbury is of course one of the events that makes an appearance, in form of the increasingly legendary muddy affair of 2005.
In Minien’s body of work however, the festival or location itself does not matter as such, nor does he sequence pictures along stringent narrative or chronological patterns (with probably the exception of the last part of the book, which works with sometimes obvious image pairs). As the title ‘View from the Crowd’ suggests, his images capture the spirit of the festival, the sense of the occasion and the collective experience shared by the audiences. These are candid shots of festival life, presenting us with the organised freedom at these events and how visitors create their own distinct community for the duration of a long weekend. As Minien says in his opening statement ‘the festival is bigger than any of the bands’ and in his pictures the crowd is more important than the individual.
What becomes immediately apparent in his documentary style photography is the strong understanding and use of colour as an element of composition to create a more immediate and less intellectual reaction to the depicted scenes. This is particularly relevant for the shots with virtually no crowd visible, which rank amongst the strongest prepositions of his work.
Given that the project spans a period of nearly one and a half decades, it is interesting to witness the improving quality of Minien's pictures over time as he grows more ambitious in his photographic style and more comfortable, focused and radical with the underlying theme.
This book therefore is also a testimony of a promising photographic development, which makes me look forward to future offerings of this clearly talented photographer and his developing body of work