Editor-in-Chief, Dan Crowe, and Photography Director, Rebecca McClelland on Port issue 15 – featuring composer Esa-Pekka Salonen shot by iconic photographer Pieter Hugo
“I’ve never been interested in labels, you know. Are you a conductor? Are you a composer? What the hell are you?”
Esa-Pekka Salonen, arguably the world’s finest composer, answers a question put to him by Port in Los Angeles this summer.
The classical world is not known for thrusting its leading lights into the mainstream, and that’s why I started thinking about him as a cover. As chief conductor for the Philharmonic in London, and recent star in a commercial for Apple, I was attracted to the fact that someone from ‘high art’ was working in the mainstream, that his extraordinary, sometimes difficult work, was being shared and listened to by a new, vast audience.
Mixing high and low, predictable and un-predictable, is something we love to do at Port, and I’m cheered at the thought that even more people might come to his music through Port. We decided that the cover photographer should also surprise and inspire, so working with the extraordinary and sometimes controversial photographer, Pieter Hugo, was a natural choice.
As Esa-Pekka says, “I don’t believe in cultural fascism, I don’t think that everyone should like the same thing.” We couldn’t agree more.
– Dan Crowe
What makes a good portrait? It is a riddle that that every photographer seeks to the answer to and every Photographic Director hopes to emulate. The acclaimed South African photographer Pieter Hugo would tell you that we are simply chasing ghosts, “sotto voce, the portrait is dead”. Which is why I found him undeniably irresistible to commission for our latest cover shoot with musical enigma Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Hugo is renown for his omnipotent and challenging documentary constructs of South African topography. He is arguably one of the most visionary (collected, exhibited and celebrated) artists of his generation. His practise is a collaborative and contemplative process between maker and sitter and created through a ‘critical zone’ of distance, whether his subjects are The Hyena Men of Nigeria, Judges of Botswana or examining his own friends in his series Theres a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends. Hugo’s vision of Esa-Pekka imprints onto your memory because it reaches beyond language, beyond superficial physiognomies to reveal the creative.
“Invention can happen anywhere” and indeed, it is evident here on the cover of our latest Port Magazine.
– Rebecca McClelland
Pieter Hugo is a photographic artist and one of the most celebrated, collected and exhibited young photographers of this century. He has numerous solo exhibitions and participated in group shows at Tate Modern, the Folkwang Museum, MOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, National Portrait Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, J Paul Getty Museum, Walther Collection, Deutsche Börse Group and Huis Marseille. He has received many awards but more recently received the Discovery Award at the Rencontres d’Arles Festival and the KLM Paul Huf Award in 2008, the Seydou Keita Award at the Rencontres de Bamako African Photography Biennial in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012.
“The portrait was inspired by a series I made before called There’s A Place in Hell for Me & My Friends. The digital technique shows how our environments have left it’s markings on our skin, how our environments have shaped us. These lines and marks show history and experience. I personally find these attributes attractive and beautiful. ”
– Pieter Hugo