who‘s untalented is blurred in the media. I was trying to make that point.‘
In capturing on film so many of today's pop cultural icons. Rankin has documented our changing tastes. Nowhere is this more apparent in tracing the pop lineage from his early period Spice Girls and All Saints shots through those taken of our two most notorious if not notable stars. Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher. ‘He is one of those characters.‘ says Rankin of Robbie. ‘He‘s got a talent for being incredibly charismatic. confident. arrogant and funny all at the same time. I‘ve never really met anyone like him. I remember he came in for a shoot and l was like. "Rob you need some time off mate" and he goes. “Why?” And I says. "You seem tired". He‘d just put one album out and was finishing off another one and l stupidly put my foot in my mouth. He was like. “I'm not stopping". and that‘s what he‘s like. He's one of those people that people love to hate but also love to love. I like him. I like him more than Liam. Rob always has a lot to say to you. Liam just doesn‘t talk.'
While giving an honourable mention to Noel Gallagher‘s ‘cool‘. he reckons the destinction between Liam and Robbie is that they‘re both cool but Rob is truly charismatic'.
Rankin‘s motivation for being a photographer amounts to one word: reaction. ‘As human beings. the instantaneous reaction people get from my pictures is what it‘s all about.‘ he says. This goes hand in hand with the social life he
revels in even more. ‘l‘m about . From top left, clockwrse:
meeting people and trying to Debbie Harmaoldie. figure them out. get inside their Shaneen Spifgyhaono' heads. talk to them. That‘s why Shirley Manson and
w ‘ all tak ‘ dt‘tigs as well b ‘caus ‘ L L ~ L L All © 2000 Rankin
you want to reduce the barriers and heighten the emotional discourse. That's what is exciting. That‘s why photography is exciting.‘
llis visit is well timed. Photography is enjoying a renaissance in the art world. a trend topped by German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans winning this year's Turner Prize. Surprisingly. Rankin is not amused. ‘He‘s just shit isn't he‘." he says. ‘He's got no heart. This is why Damien Hirst is really talented. because he has heart. He really touches people when they see his work: Wolfgang Tillmans is cold. He's fucking German. but then so is .lurgen Teller and he's really emotional: his photography touches you and you‘re blown away by it. Wolfgang can take his twenty grand prize money. shove it up his arse. shit it out and photograph that as far as I‘m concerned. I hope he does and it will be as boring as everything else.‘
Struggling to expand on his outburst he continues to cite others more worthy of the prize — Teller and Tracy limin for two — before topping off his rant by referring to a newspaper article. "I‘lze Sun or The Mirror had this thing saying “this rubbish just won the Turner Prize: if anyone else has any images that are better then send us them". I was going to send my book.‘
The remark is typical of Rankin‘s arrogance. a quality he shares with the aforementioned Messrs Williams. Gallagher and Gallagher. making them the most compelling at what they do. More than that. he is an extraordinary talent. his skill in portrait photography is second to none as his exhibition and books bear witness.
'The cover says it all for me.’ he says. ‘lt's a shot of
Madonna with her fists up. It‘s almost like she’s going. “Come and have a go if you think you‘re hard enough". Which is a little bit like my attitude to photography. It‘s a world of critique and my attitude is. “Yeah you wanna criticise me'.’ Well here‘s another fucking book!”
We live in impatient expectation of being blown away again.
The exhibition CeleBritation opens as part of the Budweiser 8 Programme at Street Level, Glasgow on Tue 16 Jan. CeleBritation, the book, is published by Vision 0n price £25. Rankin Works is published on Mon 22 Jan by Booth-Clibborn Editions price £38.
14 THE lIST 5—18 Jan 2001