Long hair, electric guitars, bared torsos… Guandalina Flamini drowns in the crowd or Parisian rock, punk and metal concerts, looking for human brightness. This freelance photographer from Italy has always been fascinated by images and music. “I’ve studied audiovisual editing, after spending 5 years in an art high school, and I’ve always drawn for fun”, she says. She was very young when she captured for the first time a concert’s atmosphere – her ex-boyfriend’s. “I was immediately under their spell: this experience linked my love for photography, and a scenery close to cinema and music”, the artist adds. In 2012, she moved to France, and started – for free at first – to document Fallen Fest, a musical showcase, earning her stripes in prestigious venues, from La boule noire to La Cigale. “I did it backwards, she laughs. It took me a few more years before finally entering smaller venues – and these are my favourite places.”
Hired by French rock magazine Longueur d’Ondes soon after, the photographer started going to dozens of shows, where the guitars’ saturation and the musicians’ energy drove the audience crazy – a sort of contagious trance. At her office, she met Laura Boisset, her editor, with whom she shared these special moments. “She was the one who came up with Glassy Eyes, she has always loved books, and this one is a true human experience: we’ve helped each other fulfill our dreams”, Guandalina Flamini says. The finished product is raw, spontaneous, striking. A collection of pictures capturing great moments – a fleeting vulnerability, or a strong emotion. In these crowded places, soaked in sweat and beer, she sinks into the audience, and goes – ever closer – to the artists, trying to capture their hidden feelings.
Behind the performer’s mask
“My photos are the reflections of something happening deep inside me, that I try to capture. There is, in each of my pictures, a part of myself”
, Guendalina Flamini tells us. The echo of a fascination for the men on stage, their personas, bodies, movements. When she tries to explain her obsessions, the artist quotes Nietzsche, and his dialectic between Apollo and Dionysus – two different entities living in every human being: one embodying discipline and the other chaos. A dichotomy she likes to illustrate herself. Her “angels”, as she calls me, appear as dangerous as fascinating, as cold as sensual. “I’ve always idealised masculine figures, she tells us. My photos are the result of this passion. Women are present in every media, but why not highlighting men? Why are we afraid or eroticising them? To represent them as desirable beings?”
Inspired by Cartier Bresson’s “instant décisif”, the photographer likes to attend the shows without researching the groups beforehand. A way for her to discover their music in the tumult of a full house. Exalted, she is at her best. “If I don’t like the band or singer, I won’t be able to do a good job”, she warns. Most of Glassy Eyes’s pictures come indeed from these first live experiences. Immersing herself in the moment, in this abandon Dionysus liked, she captures the man behind the performer’s mask. A book to read while listening to a rousing riff and a deafening drum.
Glassy Eyes, Véliplanchistes editions, €18, 128 p.
© Guendalina Flamini