5 Years With the Face
THE FACE reached the high-point of its influence and popularity in the mid 1980s showcasing music, fashion and youth cultural trends such as the New Romantics. 5 years with THE FACE was curated by Tony Arefin and Alex Noble at The Photographers’ Gallery five years after the magazine was first launched in 1980.
“Why Photography from THE FACE?
“In pursuit of showing contemporary work, The Photographers’ Gallery chose to dedicate one month of its 1985 exhibition programme to aspects of current commercial British photography, as well as investigating developments in youth culture in the Eighties. The photographs selected from the first five years of THE FACE, when combined with the magazine’s editorial, reaffirm the links between contemporary music, fashion, art and design and, in some cases, politics.
“The exhibition provides a slightly different context for photographs seen previously in the magazine. Viewed as individual images, it is clear that there is no homogenous photographic style among the 37 photographers represented. Each tries to find new ways of viewing current ‘faces’ and fashions. For example the way pop stars have been photographed in the Eighties differs from the previous decades. As Mike Laye points out,
“When we began to contribute to THE FACE, the location shoot previously the norm (for rock stars) was not commonly used. Instead, innovations were made from a studio environment. This development has led to a more stylized approach to this form of photography and one of the consequences of this has been that a number of rock photographers have also branched into fashion work.
“Another development in commercial photography in the Eighties, especially in fashion work, has been the collaboration of the photographer and stylist. Ray Petri and Caroline Baker (stylists) have worked with Jamie Morgan and Robert Erdman (photographers) to create fashion spreads which are not only influential on ‘street fashion’ but have also dictated the look of models over the past few years. However, much of the photography in the magazine relies heavily on influences form the past. Sixties photographers Terence Donovan and David Bailey spring readily to mind… and yet, when the photographs are placed in a magazine format, the stylish design and layout changes the way in which the are viewed. The exhibition attempts to show something of this dichotomy.
“The exhibition is also about looking at popular social history in the making. THE FACE is one of many magazines around today and yet presents the strongest and arguably most successful identity for youth in the 1980s. The photographs illustrate the balance achieved between representing the new and outrageous with more established figures and folk heroes. The very fact that the magazine is called THE FACE and most of the photographs exhibited are portraits suggests there is something both image and self-conscious about the way in which cult heroes and heroines are viewed in this decade.”
Tony Arefin and Alex Noble, Exhibition Organisers. Text taken from the exhibition leaflet.