‘1001 Images’ brings viewers into the world of guitarist Nick Zinner

Mesmerized by four-time Grammy nominee and renowned photographer Nick Zinner’s work, Esmeralda Ruiz walks around the Public Works gallery looking at every photograph. CLARIVAL FONG / THE GUARDSMAN

By Atticus Morris
The Guardsman

Nick Zinner’s “1001 Images,” at Public Works’ Roll Up Gallery, opened a window into the world of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ guitarist, a candid look at the life of a successful touring musician that maintains intrigue.

The  exhibit, which showed ten years of Zinner’s photography, ran from Feb. 25 to March 6 as part of the 19th annual Noise Pop festival.

The Roll Up Gallery was full of people typically associated with these sorts of events — tattooed scenesters who sipped wine from plastic cups as they snapped pictures with smart phones.

The space itself is a crooked hallway and the exhibit was presented in odd angles. The 1001 pieces were arranged to guide the viewer’s eyes to particular points — toward flashy images that were for sale.

Among them, a blown-up picture of an empty red theater resembling a David Lynch movie and a portrait of band mate Karen O wielding a gun and wearing a black kimono, fishnets and Converse sneakers.

The exhibit had a compelling, almost fractal-like aspect, whereby attention was consistently drawn further in from the larger grandiose to the smaller everyday; from the most ostentatious moments of rock stardom down to the tiniest details of the guitarist’s personal life.

A cursory glance at Zinner’s work confirmed he has traversed the globe. This makes the breadth of his work much greater than the average photographer’s. He is clearly more than just a rock star with a camera, and doesn’t hide behind exotic or exclusive subject matter.

Sure, there were plenty of pictures taken from the stages of shows. Sold out arenas crammed with legions of sweaty fans, faces twisted into masks of intense euphoria, make for memorable, if megalomanical, images.

But a much more telling and — judging by their sheer numbers — accurate portrayal of rock-star life was a series of images of unmade beds. Hotel beds, guest rooms and couches, probably several hundred pictures, occupied an entire wall of the exhibit.

Images featured musical peers, such as TV On The Radio’s Kip Malone deadpanning with a glass of scotch, and Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox camping in one of those over-sized Tupac shirts, where the dead rapper’s face occupies the entirety of the garment. But there were also ordinary slice-of-life pieces — pictures of skinned knees, middle-aged women and bathrooms.

Some of the most interesting pieces were those that broke the classic rules of photography but worked anyway, like the image depicting a woman in a hijab shopping in a crowded bazaar.

The lower part of the photo was obscured by some dark, blurry object, but this gave the image a sense of intimacy, an almost voyeuristic look into this woman’s life. Another picture taken of an outdoor concert was washed out and backlit by the sun, yet the haziness conveyed the late afternoon atmosphere perfectly.

“1001 Images” was part of the Noise Pop’s Culture Club, a two-day celebration of independent art and culture that featured panels, workshops and performances. This year’s Culture Club and The Pop Up Shop, a month-long installation put on in conjunction with Upper Playground, were firsts for Noise Pop.

Both are the culmination of the festival’s evolution from a one-night concert, to a week-long, multimedia extravaganza spread out across some of the best venues in San Francisco, Noise Pop Industries Producer Stacey Horne said.

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The Guardsman