Fans at Coachella will undoubtedly cherish their memories of witnessing beloved bands perform live. However photographer Poppy de Villeneuve will have more tangible evidence of their enraptured experience. Photographing from within the crowds, de Villeneuve has developed a series of portraits of mesmerized fans from All Tomorrow's Parties to Coachella. At the end of May, she will be presenting the series in solo exhibition at the Soho Grand's gallery. Here the London-born and Manhattan-based photographer provides a preview.
Dazed Digital: At which shows were the crowds most engaged? Poppy de Villeneuve: The festival was amazing. I was so excited by how in their own world everyone seemed, despite all being in such a public place. Everyone was united and totally in their own space.
DD: Was that what you hoped to find when undertaking the project? Poppy de Villeneuve: That is what I was hoping to find. The way couples held each other reminded me of old photographs from the 70’s of Rolling Stones fans.
DD: Was it just proximity or affinity uniting these people? Poppy de Villeneuve: The music provided a language, a strong current. The light in the desert was like being at the best moment of an American football game when the floodlights come on and the sun has just dropped out of sight. It was like the moment when the dust in the air makes things hazy. It is the most prematurely nostalgic time you could have.
DD: Are you interested in the sociological study of fandom? Poppy de Villeneuve: I'm interested in the tribes, and the microcosm of behaviour in groups representing a bigger situation.
DD: What situation, besides perhaps a secular form of worship, do you see represented by fans' energy? Poppy de Villeneuve: I think it's also about community. Perhaps it is about focusingon something that can define you in a certain way.
DD: What did you notice distinguished fans at different shows? Poppy de Villeneuve: I must say the differences between the fans were less apparent than I expected. The unity was really surprising. People blur together at music festivals, especially since it so hot. There were over 100 people who had stripped back their clothes. In these environments, stereotypes fall away.
DD: Did you feel differences between fans’ emotional levels of engagement? Poppy de Villeneuve: The Cure fans definitely had the most hard-core feeling. Second to them were the people watching My Bloody Valentine. With My Bloody Valentine, people were completely entranced. In my moving footage, you can see that they are almost like worshippers at a temple. The show had a real religious, sacrificial quality. It was amazing.
Poppy de Villeneuve, May 25 – September 2 at The Gallery in the Soho Grand Hotel, 310 West Broadway, New York.