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Hasse Persson, “Studio 54 and other stories”

Umeå, 1.11–13.12  2014

Born in 1942 in Borås, Sweden, Hasse Persson is today one of the country’s most respected photographers. He established himself as a press photographer in the United States during the years 1967-1990 and with New York as his base, he’s had the whole world as his working field. During that time he photographed everything from presidential campaigns to the legendary nightclub Studio 54 in New York.

Studio 54 opened in 1977 and within just a few months it became the world’s most renowned discotheque. Although it existed in its original form only for about a thousand nights, it is still regarded as one of the most famous entertainment venues of the 20th century. Throughout history only Moulin Rouge in Paris during the 1890s can truly be compared to the impact of Studio 54. The gigantic space offered a disco environment that the world had never experienced before – everyone wanted to get in, and the line to get into the venue quickly became an attraction in itself. Even stars such as Frank Sinatra, Cher and Warren Beatty were denied entry to the grand opening. The owner Steve Rubell handpicked guests and Hasse Persson – being one of the lucky chosen ones – ended up having free access to the facility. To capture the dark premises using an analogue camera was a technical challenge. After many attempts to seize the electrified atmosphere, Hasse Persson found that if he combined the different ambient lightsources (such as spotlights and disco balls) with flashes and ultra-slow shutter speeds, he was able to capture movement on the dance floor in a unique way. The result is a series in which each image becomes a short film from a place where reality was fantasy and nothing was impossible.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the publishing house Max Ström and Galleri Andersson/Sandström have co-produced the book “Studio 54”. For the first time these today almost legendary images are presented in the form of a book.

In the exhibition “Studio 54 and Other Stories” at Galleri Andersson/Sandström viewers will take part of unique photos from the decadent nightclub. Apart from this, the exhibition also contains other American stories shot by Hasse Persson, covering phenomena like the Ku Klux Klan, racial conditions in Midnight, Mississippi, American presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan but also portraits of iconic figures such as Larry Hagman, Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali.

Hasse Persson has a major role within Swedish photography, both as an artist and as director at various institutions. He has been a curator at the Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg and Kulturhuset in Stockholm and has produced several major photographic exhibitions in the 2000s. During his six years as director of Borås Konstmuseum, he managed to create national attention for exhibitions including Hilma af Klint, Tony Cragg, Jim Dine, and Olafur Eliasson. In 2008, he initiated Borås International Sculpture Biennial. Since 2012, Hasse Persson, is the director of Konsthallen Strandverket at Marstrand, Sweden.

In 2011 he was awarded the honourable His Majesty the King Medal for his aesthetic achievements as a photographer. Hasse Persson’s work is represented in a number of Swedish museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm.”Studio 54 and Other Stories” is Hasse Persson’s first solo exhibition at Galleri Andersson/Sandström.