Ship In The Sand

music, fandom and photography

Courtney Love


image © 1993 Aline Giordano

text © 2011 Aline Giordano

Photographs of celebrities in the magazines have been shot and styled as commodities for mass consumption. My photograph of Courtney Love could be viewed through that same distorting filter. People might just see, as in the title of her band’s third album, the ‘celebrity skin’ and not the individual beneath it. But this photograph is an alternative visual and narrative to the mainstream stories. It was taken at the height of the Love and Cobain’s tumultuous and high-profile relationship. She was the ‘enfant terrible’ pop star that the media loved to hate. I was backstage at a festival where Hole (her band) played and I knew that Courtney Love was behind that dressing room door which had been left ajar. It was the first time I would be in contact with a celebrity. So I did what some amateurs and perhaps all professional photographers do: I took a chance and got the picture. I took Courtney Love by surprise and this photograph is the result. It was, and still is a ‘stolen’ shot, the only one I have ever made. If Love had indeed been this horrible woman as portrayed in the media, she would have had me expelled from backstage. Instead, once I had apologised for taking the picture, we sat down and started talking. I asked if I could interview her after the concert and she very kindly obliged. She also instructed security to forbid all photographers to take photographs of her show apart from me and my friend. Not only did we get an exclusive interview on the day, beating all the mainstream media, but we also got exclusive photographs. If this photograph had been published in the mainstream music press it would, doubtless, have had a damning caption and the myth about Courtney Love would have carried on. Instead, what I saw when spending nearly one hour with this woman, was a wife very emotionally dependent on her husband and child, an ‘enfant terrible’ maybe, but also a grown up with strong views on the social and political environment surrounding her. She displayed a great sense of humour and treated us to a satirical overtly feministic two-minute impromptu a capella. She was great. Chance is, she still is.

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