This past week I had the pleasure of serving as still photographer for Derek Liddington’s Dandy Gangs: A working-class love story . Derek’s statement for the performance:
“The performance Dandy Gangs: a working-class love story looks at possible repetitions founded in dandy, hip hop, punk, rock n’ roll and gang aesthetics. Consistent with my interest in melding popular histories and autobiographical moments I have borrowed locations from hangouts I had as a youth growing up in Mississauga, including Mississauga’s Civic Centre and Kariya Park. At scheduled times knowing and unknowing audiences will watch as two groups of dancers and tenors interact through operatic song and dance choreography based on early Fluxus happenings, scenes from West Side Story and operatic interpretations of early 90’s hip hop music. Viewers will watch as opposing dandy-gangs entangle in scenarios of territorial misunderstanding, conflict, tension and resolution expressed through a Fluxus-dance-rock-opera. Gang members will be presented as caricatures melding fashions and attitudes borrowed from the flâneur, dandy and punk; likening the performers to the cultural phenomenon of flash-mobs.” (http://derekliddington.com/section/245097_Dandy_Gangs_A_Working_Class_Love_Story.html)
The two featured gangs were The Warhols (pictured above) and The Stallones, each with a distinctive uniform and their own gang leaders, all wearing masks of their respective namesakes. The outfits were meticulously constructed, with metal studs outlining the gang names on the backs of the clothing (I can’t imagine what all this cost to have made). Wigs were similarly used to distinguish the gangs, and in the same manner, the gang leaders, who had beautiful leather tail-coats.
The performance occurred in three parts: a chance meeting and confrontation between the two gangs during a picnic in a park, a progression of each gang through Square One mall, and a final, operatic-rock battle in Celebration Square, a giant recreation fountain.
Photographing the performance was definitely challenging but thoroughly enjoyable. Too often I’ve seen performance work essentially destroyed by a photographer literally pointing a camera a few feet from the performer’s faces; I used a relatively long lens and aimed to be as inconspicuous as possible, and I think I did pretty well. The resulting images were, in my opinion, extremely successful and I quite enjoyed “reliving” the whole performance as I processed the final photos.
Following the cut below I’ve included some of the ‘highlights’ and a few feature photos showing the principal players and outfits.