Facing the lens of British photographer Ralph Peru all kinds of characters have been placed. From David Beckham to Boris Johnson, through Justin Timberlake and half Hollywood. The sought-after artist has also done numerous jobs in the music, fashion or advertising industry. He has traveled the world doing his job. However, the one he has photographed the most is Marilyn Manson, who is joined by a friendship that has now exceeded two decades. “Time flies by when you’re having fun,” says Perou. Of the thousands of images taken over the years, 30 have arrived in Malaga thanks to the exhibition 21 years in hell (21 years in hell), inaugurated at the La Térmica cultural center in Malaga. It is the first time that large-format photographs have been brought together in a single space. They can be seen until January 22 in a room with a capacity reduced to a maximum of 25 people due to the sanitary conditions imposed by the covid-19 pandemic.
The title of the exhibition is no coincidence. It is just the time that both have been working together. The original denomination was to be Marilyn Manson, by Perou, but finally the photographer decided to change it and include the word hell. There have been ups and downs in the relationship. “It was not always bad, we had really good and funny moments, but blood, sweat and tears were often shed along the way,” says Perou in a video that can also be seen on La Térmica.
21 years in hell It is a story based on portraits and images taken in the studio – most of them – but also on the road, during music tours or behind the scenes. It is the work of two chameleons. One, in front of the camera, that transforms and unfolds thanks to her unclassifiable personality since she decided to be Marilyn Manson, born in 1969 as Brian Hugh Warner. Another, behind the machine, giving a lesson on how a photographer can portray a person so many times without falling into repetition. And even managing to go further through some photographs that move from the most classic portrait to the “most hooligan”, as the curator of the exhibition, Toni García, says. “Perou has selected these images, they could have been others. It would be something different, but it would still be very powerful, “he adds.
The works are accompanied by a fortnight of vinyls, made from the symbolism created by the photographer, the musician’s tattoos and fragments of quotes from the talk that both held in 2019, which is reproduced in the homonymous book, published by Reel Art Press in June and it collects up to 350 images. The tour completes an immersion in Marilyn Manson, a controversial headline classic that is as difficult to define as it is to guess which photographs are taken in the late 1990s or which ones a few years ago. Makeup, masks, paint, or tattoos obscure the passage of time. It is a game that the photographer invites to participate in. “There is no chronological order, just like my blurry memories of the time I spent with Marilyn Manson,” Perou emphasizes.
García excused the photographer from not attending the inauguration due to the quarantine that would have to go back to the United Kingdom after traveling to Spain. However, in the afternoon, he held a meeting by videoconference before a small audience at La Térmica. On screen he appeared in a suit, hat and dark glasses with blue rims and a great sense of humor. During the talk, explained that his relationship with Manson began just the same year that he met his wife. Also, that the deal began “being professional, then it became unprofessional and, finally, it became professional again, until it is on its way to becoming a work of art. Later, he defined himself as “a photographer of the people, a photographer who is in fashion”, while answering questions from the audience and talking about the exhibition, which he himself has designed “down to the last centimeter”, after requesting the plans from the room to the address of La Térmica. The sample is expected to reach other cities in Spain, although they are not yet defined. Meanwhile, it’s time to go to Malaga to delve into the dark universe of one of the most relevant musicians of recent decades.