Art Interview | posted 13.06.2013
Eliot Lee Hazel
The Stranger
Eliot Lee Hazel’s photographs of musicians are often gritty, raw, filled with cinematic language. British Hazel lives in America, is only 21 years-old and yet he’s already photographed Yeasayer, Thom Yorke, Ariel Pink and Cat Power.
Text Grashina Gabelmann , Photos Eliot Lee Hazel , Translation Julia Hinz
Eliot Lee Hazel’s photographs of musicians and bands are often gritty, raw, filled with cinematic language and American visual symbols. He shot Ariel Pink sitting within a broken television set, pushing around a junk filled shopping cart, walking along train tracks or hanging out in what seems to be a desolate house looking out the window contemplatively. These images are shot either in over saturated oranges and blues reminding of Warhol’s generous use of color or shot with natural light with an added grainy, polaroid-like layer. Both color scales and all motives couldn’t be more American. Hazel is British though. Born in Newcastle Upon Tyne he has recently moved to America: »If I was living in Britain then my pictures would most likely look different,« he reckons. Maybe it’s because of his status as a foreigner that his country of residence’s stereotypical symbols and visual language are so pre-dominant. Perhaps it is the just 21-year-old’s way of exploring his adopted home’s visual history and a way to connect with his American subjects like Yeasayer, Cat Power and Mars Volta. Spontaneity and energy are continuously embedded in his shots and a feel of familiarity and ease, which might come from the fact that Hazel never studied photography but merely really got a kick out of photographing his friends. »Some of them were musicians and the ball kept rolling as more and more musicians would ask if I could shoot them.« His work process is pretty chilled as one would expect from a 21 year-old who absolutely loves what he does; »90% of the time I’ll have a random idea on the day of the shoot. Sometimes a musician brings an idea and I’ll work with that.«

If a musician wants to express his artistic persona while discreetly revealing something about their private them in front of Hazel’s camera would be a pretty good place to go Hazel’s photographs are cinematic. They are more than straight-faced band pictures used for press packages. If a musician wants to express his artistic persona while discreetly revealing something about their private them in front of Hazel’s camera would be a pretty good place to go. It’s surprising than that Hazel doesn’t see a connection between the cinema and his work: »I like movies and I like theatre but it does not play much of a role in my photography although people tend to often think so.« Maybe it really doesn’t play a role but I’m not convinced; perhaps Hazel’s photos contain subliminal messages of aestheticism, which cinema has so cleverly interwoven that not even the photographer noticed because one thing is for sure: Hazel is a story teller.

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