Critique

Expertise: The Photographs of Moby

In the feature “Expertise,” we discuss photography by celebrities who are seriously passionate about taking photos in addition to doing another artform. We ask professional photographers to evaluate their work. In today’s issue, the editor of Foto.ua Aleksandr Liapin discusses the photos of musician Moby.


Моби

Moby, age 49

His real name is Richard Melville Hall and he’s a DJ, singer, composer and performer. He was born in New York. In his youth he played in the punk hard-core band, “The Vatican Commandos.” He switched to electronic music in 1989. In 1991, his single “Go” consisting of samples from the music of the Twin Peaks TV series, entered the British Top 10 charts. He released his first album in 1992. The album Play (1999) became platinum in 26 countries and was nominated for the Grammy Awards three years in a row. He earned several awards from MTV and VH1.

Philosopher and photographer

Moby’s musical taste is diverse: he began with classical, played punk rock at 13-14, and then began playing electronic. “I would have liked to have been an architect … or a philosophy professor because I studied philosphy and photography in university,” he said. Moby publishes photobooks simultaneously with his music albums. They have similar names, as if one couldn’t exist without the other.

Moby’s interest in photography emerged when he was only nine years old. His first camera was a Nikon F which was given to him by his uncle, a photographer with The New York Times. But only in 2011, when he was already famous, did Moby publish his first photobook entitled, Destruction in which he gathered together photographs taken during his tours.


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“The Dreary Diary of a Vegetarian”
Aleksandr Liapin

Aleksandr Liapin, age 57

Born in Kyiv, Liapin graduated from the history faculty of the Kyiv Pedagogical Institute. Liapin worked as a photojournalist with the international agency GP and served as the chief editor of Kyiv’s Vecherniye Vesti for ten years. He’s currently the chief editor of the Internet journal Foto.ua and the author of articles about photography.

Photography settled somewhere on the periphery of his brain and it clearly caters to his musical creativity. Moby’s music is one big lullaby with certain kinds of splashes and illogical divergences. It’s the same with his photographs. The whole time he’s taking pictures of the same image, tedious and dull: crowds of spiritless fans at his concerts with their arms raised, trying to reach their idol who looks like an eggheaded alien. There are also hotels, plans, and airports… a dreary diary of a vegetarian, basically.


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An infatuation for philosophy and Dostoevsky forces him to be a slight skeptic. But given that he’s also an author, he gives his series an apocalyptic name, likely to lend them at least some kind of global, disturbing meaning. He named a series about fans and hotel corridors “Destruction,” as if Moby destroyed their organisms with his music. He published a book with these photos and packaged it with his lastest eponymous disc.

He named his second armageddon cycle of images, “Innocents.” Well, here’s a costume theatre of the absurd. Some figures in white medical garb with heads hidden behind feral masks turned out to be, in the author’s view, cult members who survived the end of the world. They were probably vegetarians because they didn’t die like everyone else. The personalities roam, bathe and engage in square dances. The pictures are beautiful and the bleak landscapes particularly bring me joy. And if Moby hadn’t talked on every page about the content of his creative work, then no one would have guessed but instead invented their own stories about the psychological illness that struck a New York zoo. Its animals escaped and ate all the people. The book was also packaged with the “Innocents” album. In general, Moby fights for the environment but doesn’t hope to win.


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