As a Music Photographer, the announcement of a lockdown was a hard hit. While staying safe and healthy is of the utmost importance, I watched helplessly as my favourite shows and festivals were cancelled in Europe and England. Then, on one sunny day and for the first time since the start of lockdown at the end of March, I picked up my camera and started The Cancelled Series on the 9th of May.
With this new project, my aim is to show that despite all the cancellations, musicians and performers are still there, learning how to adapt and thrive, just as much as I do, as a gig photographer. I took the lockdown as an opportunity to challenge my creativity and my photographic style by recreating my favourite high energy stage action shots at performers’ homes. I hopped on my bike (thanks to Evans Cycles for the sturdiest and lightest piece of engineering!), and started cycling from door to door, meeting everyone in their best stage outfits and with a whole lot of attitude.
My first stop was in North London, to visit my dear friend Trixi Tassels, an incredibly fierce burlesque performer and her lockdown flatmate Gary Voodoo, drummer in the Urban Voodoo Machine (I met his green partner-in-crime Jay a few days later). After that, it escalated very quickly. From gogo dancers as Eleanor Meyer (of the Meyer Dancers) or Hélène De Joie to drag performers such as Kallum, Lx Motley… I had the chance to stop by Dan G Sells‘ place in East London and meet him in his very first stage suit. Kitty Liv, of Kitty, Daisy & Lewis also took part in the series and invited me in her recording studio.
All photos have been taken with the required social distancing rules and my 14mm lens, to put an emphasis on that distance between the photographer and the subject. This led to interesting situations, such as Trynity Silk playing trumpet for her neighbours, getting covered in flour by Smeg of King Kurt or meeting with the gorgeous opera singer Emma Jüngling – which was definitely a highlight and a big step out of my punk comfort zone! Let’s not forget to mention the Baron of Sideshow, the man with the Guinness Book Record of the strongest nipples. The Baron is a multi-talented character, and gave us a real treat by lifting nearly 3kg (6 pounds or the weight of a newborn baby) with his eyelids.
Most of us should have been on stage or on tour. But instead, we are home. And we are excited to show the world that, despite this situation, musicians, performers and photographers are still there, and we cannot wait to get back on stage to keep the show going. The Cancelled Series are therefore an ongoing project, and I will keep cycling until the show start again (or until the wheels fall off!). You can expect more images of a wider range of performers from across London. In the meantime, don’t forget what Joe Strummer said “punk rock means exemplary manners to your fellow human beings”. Stay safe!
Photography & words by Pauline Di Silvestro. 09/06/2020.
The Cancelled Series are visible on Pauline’s website, and on her Facebook and Instagram.
Listen to Pauline talking about the series, her work and her life in lockdown in this podcast by Headliner Magazine.