This week, the Grammys are being held in New York City for the first time in almost 20 years.
To celebrate, the legendary FAME Studios is hosting a pop-up of incredible live performances — one of which is photographer Michael Weintrob's INSTRUMENTHEAD exhibition on Friday.
Weintrob will host a lecture followed by a Q&A and book signing for his new coffee table book at 66 Greenwich Avenue in West Village. Popdust will also be livestreaming the Q&A — moderated by Binky Griptite — via Facebook live. In addition to his talk there will be live-performances by artists such as Peter Levin, Scott Sharard, and Emily Duff throughout the week.
Quite literally, INSTRUMENTHEAD contains portraits of musicians with guitars, violins, and other instruments covering their heads. This somewhat quirky project is definitely interesting and whimsical to say the least. Even Weintrob himself admits that his inspiration for the project had escaped even him for a period of time. Since 1998, Michael Weintrob has shot over 5,000 artist portraits and live music professionally — in his INSTRUMENTHEAD project alone, he shot almost 400 in his Brooklyn studio. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Spin, Mojo, Billboard, Relix, Downbeat and Jazz Times among other publications.Michael recently released his book, INSTRUMENTHEAD through his own publishing company, Magnet Bound Press and has toured the US including an exhibition at FAME Studios headquarters in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. His book has also received an Independent Publishers Award for Outstanding Design. Weintrob's inspiration for his innovative project began when he was a student at Colorado State University and the house photographer at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins. While he was taking portraits of the Derek Trucks Band backstage he asked the bass player to put his bass down his shirt.Although he did not pursue this strange inspiration immediately, it became the basis of a collection of photos of 366 musicians that was INSTRUMENTHEAD. Funded by more than $50,000 through the Indiegogo platform, Weintrob's book has become wildly popular among musicians and designers alike.
Weintrob has taken photos of musicians like Bootsy Collins, Johnny Winter, the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart, Junior Brown, Sam Bush and Kyle Hollingsworth all holding their instruments over their head. In his work, he alludes to the centrality of the instruments themselves, placing them above the musician even. While there are frontmen in the book, Weintrob says most of the photos are of sidemen. In an interview with Westword, Weintrob says, "The instruments are just an extension of who they are...so if it wasn't for those instruments and how good they are on those instruments, they wouldn't be who they are. The catchphrase for it is 'That's where their heads are really at.'"During a week celebrating the incredible talents of contemporary musicians, INSTRUMENTHEAD is a poignant reminder of both the transcendent talent and humbling temporality of musicians and their muses. Weintrob expands and contracts the barriers between the artist and their instrument in a candid way.
Amber Wang is a freelance writer for Popdust. She also writes for other sites such as Gearbrain and Trueself, along with being a student at NYU.
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