UNDERCOVER #6: RYAN McGINLEY
by Gianpaolo Arena


SIGUR RÓS “Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust ” 2008 XL/EMI


Photo: Ryan McGinley Highway, 2007

“Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust” (With a Buzz in Our Ears We Play Endlessly) is the splendid title of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós’ fifth studio album, produced by Flood and recorded in New York, London and Havana. This album merges the stylistic features that make this band unique, in light of a new awareness and maturity. Symphonic and choral outbursts; acoustic glimpses embellished with crystal-clear piano phrasings; long suites opening to occasional forays of euphoric and dynamic electricity; ethereal arrangements, celestial voices as mystical and dreamy atmospheres; a mellotron to fill a carpet of sounds and noises; a crescendo of orgiastic drums and psychedelic expansions define this album. In the cover photo we see between nudism and naturism, the same sense of freedom; a frenetic vitality, a tremendous joy and confusion of the senses of a restless youth.

Ryan McGinley, born in 1977 in New Jersey, moved to New York where he studied graphic design and was introduced to photography. Living in close contact with the gay and hipster East Village, he began portraying his friends and fellow travellers. Although in accordance with the existence of excesses, vices and obsessions of Larry Clark, Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Ed Templeton and his friend Dash Snow, Mcginley stands out for the fun, the exuberance, the joy of living and the amazing momentum that characterizes his life and his aesthetic gestures. Reality and fiction converging, the desire to make intimate public, alternating from immediate and spontaneous images to more controlled and someway ‘built’ ones, low resolution images, the brilliant colours and an easy approach to photography are chosen and practiced as a ‘philosophy’ and a peculiar glance on the world. 

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LINKS

Ryan McGinley (website)
Ryan McGinley: Photographs 1999-2015, Kunsthal Kade 
Sigur Ros “ Gobbledigook” with Bjork at Naturra, 2008
“Friends Forever”, a film by Ryan McGinley 
Sigur Ros BBC London 
Sigur Rós - Live 2013 
Ryan McGinley: Parsons Commencement 2014 Speech



Sigur Rós performing at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam, 2013 © CC by 2.0

© All copyright remains with the photographer and property


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Undercover is a special issue dedicated to photographers and musical covers.