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FamilyReview - Family
Photographs
by Lauren Dukoff
Chronicle Books, 2009
Review by Christian Perring
Jun 9th 2009 (Volume 13, Issue 24)

I should start by saying that I don't normally warm to hippies, and this is a book of photographs of neo-hippies.  Lauren Dukoff went to the same high school as Devendra Banhart and spends plenty of time with him and his friends.    Banhart's music has many influences, and is often extremely beautiful.  It has folk, international (Banhart grew up in Venezuela) and Nick Drake influences.  The music has a retro feel to it, although it is also part of the new folk movement associated with artists like Iron and Wine.  Of course, the men in this book nearly all have long unkempt hair and beards, and they like dressing up.  These pictures emphasize the playful, creative, and free-spirited side of this group of friends.  Apart from Banhart, we also see Bat for Lashes, Vashti Bunyan, Vetiver, Joanna Newsom, and many others.  The photography is in both color and black and white, but it is consistently spontaneous and intimate.  Dukoff portrays her subjects with great sympathy and she shows a group of loving creative people -- Banhart himself is obviously a strong charismatic character.  My stereotype of hippies is a group of self-indulgent, often quite sexist, and politically naïve people who smoke too much pot, and that stereotype is not reinforced here; indeed it goes some way to undermine the stereotype.  Personally I prefer the music without the visuals, but Dukoff's book does a good job at showing a loving group of artists who are currently fashionable in their own way.  I imagine that in a few years, their looks will be as dated as those of the 1960s hippies, but their music will probably last longer.

 

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© 2009 Christian Perring                   

   

Christian Perring, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York.


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