Pose & Becks

My skin began to crawl when I saw bottle of Becks beer with an image of Ian Curtis on the label. Then I saw, at the bottom of the label, Anton Corbijn‘s name. I only barely recognised the photograph in question.

Beck Beer feat. Anton Corbijn as Ian CurtsPhoto credit

When I looked closer, I saw that the figure on the label was actually Corbijn himself, in one of his ‘self-portraits‘. Corbijn has represented himself as Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Jimi Hendrix and as above, Ian Curtis, who he so admired.

Interestingly, we looked at the notion of self-portraiture in one of our photography classes recently, discussing such photographers as Corrine Day and Cindy Sherman. Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills were photographs of Sherman, taken by Sherman i.e. self-portraits. However, she played a part, a character in each photo. Was presenting an imagined stranger, herself, exhibiting a part of her self? Is it Curtis or Corbijn, if you know what I mean?

So not entirely enamoured by the idea of Curtis, or indeed Corbijn, featured on a product (albeit beer!), I looked into the matter further. It seems that this is a 25 year old collaboration between Becks and various artists including Andy Warhol, Damien HirstYoko Ono and for you crazy kids out there, M.I.A.

Would Ian Curtis be happy to be represented on a bottle of beer? Who knows? New Order (who formed from Joy Division after Curtis’ death) are no strangers to advertisements. The Pixies were involved in selling holidays, Iggy Pop sold insurance. Even John Lydon, as Rotten as he once was, has advertised butter!

As a young man, Corbijn wanted to leave his homeland of Holland as he felt that his photography work would flourish in England. When he heard Joy Division’s album, Unknown Pleasures, that cemented the deal. He met Joy Division within 12 days of setting foot in England in 1979.

There is no doubt about the admiration and mutual respect between Curtis, Joy Division and Corbijn. If anyone was to pose as Curtis on a product, let it be and remain Anton Corbijn.

Here’s to Ian!

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