Elegy for the Summer of Love
In the ’60s, Alain Dister took his camera and long hair hitchhiking across the country to capture communes and clinics in the age of psychadelica.
“When I first took some pictures in America, during the summer of 1966, I had no proper photographic education. After spending some time in Madagascar, I had bought an SLR Canon camera on my way back, with the intention of shooting landscapes. I was still drawing and painting, probably thinking I would photograph what I couldn’t paint. When I landed in New York, I tried to focus more on people. The street action in the Village blew my mind. It was the beginning of a new era, with proto-hippies and older beatniks all over the place. I just went on, let my hair grow and picked up a drive-away to California. San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury were in full bloom. Hitch-hiking my way up the coast, I was fortunate enough to get a ride with very well turned on and tuned in people who promptly introduced me to « the scene ». I kept coming back, and by the summer of 1967 – that famous « Summer of Love » – I had established my quarters among the local communes, moving from one to the other, experiencing various states of consciousness and social behavior. All the while, I tried and take pictures of what had become my natural environment. I paid for my films and printing paper by working as a dishwasher and newspaper street seller. Sometimes, people would object me carrying a camera, thus being un-natural. Often I wasn’t, just digging whatever was happening. Those were the days…. Looking back at those pictures, they bring memories of a very special moment in the course of American history, with familiar faces of friends and lovers being allowed to live forever through the magic of photography.”
Alain Dister was born in 1941 in Lyon, France. His work has been shown in museums in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy and in commercial galleries all over the world. To this day, seventeen books have been published about the artist’s work. He started taking photographs in 1963, while traveling on the East Coast of Africa. In 1967 he met Jimi Hendrix and went on tour with him. It was the start of a number of rock star photo diaries. Featuring musicians such as Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd, Zappa, Genesis, Gong, Ramones, Patti Smith, …
The body of work in this exhibition is a selection of pieces taken during the « Summer of Love » (1967-1968).
On View thru Sept. 1. (Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.) @ Envoy, 131 Chrystie St., b/t Delancey & Broome Sts, NYC. (212-226-4555).