Visions, Decoded #04: On Dennis Hopper's photography
(για ελληνικά πατήστε εδώ)
As another half-lunatic photojournalist, or a kind pariah, roles with which he had been cinematographically standardized, the American actor, director and art collector Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) by the mid ‘50s had already started practicing the art of photography, creating a photographic record of incalculable mnemonic value. His records summarize the absurd glory of the American culture in all its different aspects: the small artistic sects with painters and collectors, who would define the post war American cultural production; the Hollywood dream, through the almost indiscrete moments of the recorded as “important” actors who empowered it; music – the moment when its influence exceeded the simple acoustic recognition and introduced the young to a never ending revolution. Hopper will be present at that point too, to discuss with the young subcultures of the 1960s, the “black” potential which was just blossoming, and the bourgeois counter-culture in all its contradictions, especially against the cultural-ideological institutions which defined it.
Through black and white open frames, Hopper creates a genuine live folk material, which surpasses its era: in the greatest part of his photographs he undermines the tidied and, often, misleading character of his recording and chooses to adopt a new rhetoric of the image; that of the unexpected, but serious, and blindingly harsh, without, whatsoever, lacking the sense of humor. Τhe indocile student of J. Albers, the new American Dadaist artist Robert Rauschenberg sticks his tongue out at Hopper’s lens, getting over with the excessive theory, artistic rigidness and academic authority with a simple gesture; a humorous gesture towards the artistic, and, perhaps every day, world, from which Hopper was expelled once and for all. However, no one predicted that only a mad man could experience such “system of moments” up until the very last minutes of his own life.
Dennis Hopper’s book The Lost Album was released in 2014 from the publishing house Prestel. You can find it by clicking here. For information about Dennis Hopper’s life and work you can visit his official website: http://dennishopper.com/
*Translated from greek by Adamantia Zafiropoulou
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Ursula-Helen Kassaveti (photo by Vivi Kaparou) was born in Athens in 1980. She holds a B.A. in Literature (University of Athens, Athens School of Philosophy), a M.A. in Cultural Studies (University of Athens, Department of Communication and Mass Media) and a Ph.D. in Film, Genre Theory and Sociology at the same department. Her research interests revolve around Popular Culture (film/music), Visual Ethnography, and Cultural Studies. She has been a post-doc researcher at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she co-taught the undergraduate module “Social History of Mass Media” (2015) and is now a research fellow at University of Patras. She has made various announcements in international and Greek conferences and has published articles and a monography on film and media. She teaches “Discourse and Visual Analysis” and “Greek Film & Culture” at “Kostis Palamas” Longlife Education Program at the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens.