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Scene and Herd

Compiling over a 1000 images based on music, Ruvan Wijesooriya presents his photography exhibition this August at the Way Out West Festival, Sweden

Dazed speak to New York based Ruvan Wijesooriya in hopes of discovering his motives behind taking a thousand photos of what he deems music-based to exhibit at Gothenburg's Way Out West festival. Between shooting for Paul Smith, with subjects like Anouck Lepere, and releasing a book distributed via DFA Records, he has taken images of the personal or sentimental amongst glamorous party-goers, musicians, and life in New York.

Dazed Digital: Do you think it is difficult to capture music in terms of images, how do your photos specifically 'relate to music'?

Ruvan Wijesooriya: Yeah, it's fucking hard. I live in music. The photos relate because music is supposed to define and progress movement in society. It sounds indulgent and uppity, but I have to try my hardest to be sure music is represented well for the future. I can’t depend on talentless hacks with digital SLR's to define our age. Look at Brassai in the 30’s, Mick Rock in the 70’s, Charles Petersen in the 90’s, I've got to at least try to represent!

DD: What is the significance behind taking 1000 photos, any particular relevance to something personal?
Ruvan Wijesooriya: I have no idea how many photos I have that relate to music, but at least 1000, which is why I put that on the flyer, so I would not be lying. I don’t like to lie. The edit today is over 1250 that I want people to see, images I want people to have. No relevance whatsoever, but all personal. These 1250+ photos say something about my life as much as they say something about the subjects in the photographs. So does fashion, so do flowers, so do landscapes, but those are for a different show. I would like to think all my photographs speak in the same language, despite their differences.

DD: What inspired you to do an exhibition of photos on music?
Ruvan Wijesooriya: I wanted people to see the photos I take photos of.  Also my idiot Swedish friends and NYC fiends. Best fiends. “The birds aren’t singing…they just screech in pain.” Like Kinski.

DD: Why did you choose the Way Out West Festival as the venue for your exhibition?
Ruvan Wijesooriya: I had other appointments in Sweden and always look for an excuse to come here since I’m working on a book about the place. I like Rub ‘n’ Tug and for some reason I have always wanted to do an exhibition where Eric Duncan is DJ'ing. Plus, Edvin from TieDye hooked me up with a train ticket from Stockholm and has been psyched on this idea since I mentioned it to him a few months ago. I’ve taken most of these photos as a fan. They are for fans from a fan. Out of 1250 photos I think maybe 10 of them are retouched. Every single one was shot on film. I guess that should say something about commitment.

DD: What was your favourite photo of the series?
Ruvan Wijesooriya: Come see the exhibition. Your favorite means more to me than my favorite. You, the audience, will install this show. You, the audience, will take it down and the metamorphosis will be most beautiful. Nothing is for sale, the photos are for you to take and keep. When the photos are for sale, it is a different matter, and they are different photographs, larger in size, and specifically for exhibiting in a 'for sale' context.

DD: What do you plan to work on next?
Ruvan Wijesooriya: The 'In Search of You' installation on the 3rd floor of Bergdorf Goodman is being finalized right now. Look for the photos in the new apartment for Chuck Bass on the TV show Gossip Girl. Buy the next new release of LCD Soundsystem called 'Bye Bye Bayou', I shot the cover. Come to my exhibition/happening in L.A. in September. Look at my first 'art' video of the dancing girl being projected onto the Stockholm Kulturhuset Aug 13-18. Hire me to shoot your next campaign or cover, I’d love to work on it! Or come over for lunch and check out my work. I will cook.

The Scene & Herd exhibition will be at the Way Out West Festival, Gothenburg, Sweden from August 14 - 15.
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