The Things that Made Me: Anton Corbijn and 'Control'


When I listened to Joy Division in my teenage years, I did not make a lot of it. It was too depressing, too monotonous for me back then. Rediscovering it in my twenties I suddenly understood the different layers of Joy Division. Because the music was not only depressing, it was not only sad, not only cold. A word that I would use to describe the band is simply 'Punk'. No other band was able to convey punk music for me like Joy Division. The ultimate difference to our norms, against everything the characters in Ginsberg's 'A Supermarket in California' stand for. To me, Joy Division started a revolution in music, similar to Bowie. So it was hard for me to believe that 'Control' was able to capture these feelings I had towards Joy Division. But watching the first seconds of the movie, I was literally shocked. Never had I watched a movie more accurate to what I was expecting. Allen Ginsberg's nuclear family in a Manchester suburban setting and there he goes: The portrayal of punk. Black and white to scratch the surface of Joy Division's music to make it accessible even to the less understanding among us. And Sam Riley, embodying the broken voice of Ian Curtis is a blessing to the world. Anton Corbijn became my personal hero in questions of understanding the deep core of all music.

But of course, who else than Corbijn? With his numerous pictures of Tom Waits, he is transferring Wait's music into each of them. There is also another side I enjoy about Corbijn's work: The comedic and absurd side. His rockstar portraits may be shot in black and white with serious faces to sell the rockstar coolness but each of them has the intimacy to show more. So, while you are staring at the pictures, you may glance at a serious rockstar but also just look at a person being put in a super artificial light. You see them staring awkwardly back and you wonder who they really are under the cool star image they are presenting. You do not find answers, but you can see that there is more to grasp than just an image. This intimacy is what is lost in so many pictures of heartbreaking popstars. Maybe it is because Corbijn gives them a certain freedom to be them. There is nothing more intimate than music. And while you are listening to Springsteen or PJ Harvey, you get a deeper look into their inside world. You may not understand it but you do see that there is more. So basically, Corbijn is doing exactly what music is doing just with photography. It is never perfect, though. The lie of perfection is taken away. The artificial surface of the picture is just an accessory and does not play a role anymore. But with this, it captures beauty in itself. It sounds cheesy but the very core of an image is the perfection of the unseen. At least that is what I believe. You can capture beauty easily. But the gifted one's are those who are able to take away the beauty to make it beautiful. If that makes sense. In my opinion, that is exactly what Corbijn is capable of doing and that is also why he is one of the things that formed me. 

Each week, I am gonna present you things, people, works, lives that made me who I am today. I hope you will enjoy this blog and if you have any thoughts on Corbijn, feel free to comment. Enjoy xx 

P.S.: All pictures drawn by me 

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