• Replace Head With Instrument: Surrealist Music Photography

    December 13, 2011. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

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    Bootsy Collins. (Image Credit: Michael Weintrob)

    New-York-based Michael Weintrob is the official photographer of the 43rd Barcelona Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival. "I met him when I needed a photo of [jazz concert producer] George Wein when we presented the great impresario with his trio last year," says Joan Anton Cararach, the festival director. (Barcelona is a sister festival to the Newport Jazz Festival, founded by Wein.) "I saw Michael working very hard in New York and Newport, and I really liked his approach to live concert photography."

    Weintrob occupied the Gran Hotel Havana, festival headquarters, starting Oct. 26. During the festival, he became something of an anchor resident and a self-described "camp counselor" to journalists covering the events on a temporary basis.

    Fifteen images from Weintrob's portraiture series, InstrumentHead, were exhibited in the hotel lobby, thanks to support from the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona. "InstrumentHead is a project I've been working on for five years," says Weintrob. "They're surrealist portraits of musicians, and I'm trying to tell their story without seeing their face. The idea is to leave hints in the images, so their fans can guess who they are without seeing their face."

    More than 200 artists have participated in the project so far. There have been discussions about a book and a fan-funded online archive, as well as a 2013 exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    In Barcelona, Weintrob spent his days shooting artist clinics, conducting student workshops, and speaking at the Catalan Institute for Photography. At night, he captured the concerts and special events, spread over a month, that are collectively known as the Barcelona Jazz Festival. "It's a big honor to have a surrealist exhibition in Catalonia, the home of surrealist art and a place where Dali, Miro and Picasso all made an impact."

    "Michael was already set to come to Barcelona, so I thought it could be a great idea to make him our official photographer," Cararach says. "I loved the idea of having a photographer from abroad discover the festival — our venues, our public, our love for food and wine. He's working hard, but he's having fun. I'm delighted to see my festival through his eyes. He has become a true Barcelonian."


    Josh Jackson produces The Checkout on WBGO. The latest episode of the program surveys the 2011 Barcelona Jazz Festival.

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