Iggy Pop / MARK 5:28 - The Story of the Photo

The City of Sydney celebrates Sydney’s creativity and imagination with Art & About Sydney, a year long program of temporary art projects in unusual spaces. The Australian Life Exhibition and Prize has been a feature of Art and About Sydney for the past 15 years inviting amateur and professional photographers to submit their epic and intimate images of Australia. The finalists’ photos are displayed in large scale format along Sydney’s St James walkway in Hyde Park North.

My entry together with the other 1,450 were viewed by the Australian Life Judging Panel, comprised of Mags King, Cherine Fahd and Dennis Golding alongside the Australian Life Curatorial Advisor, Sandy Edwards. I was fortunate to be selected as one of the 28 finalists to be exhibited in Hyde Park from 19th September to 13th October 2019. This is the story behind my entry, MARK 5:28.

I attended Iggy Pop’s second Sydney concert at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday, 17th April, 2019. It was just before Easter and the Godfather of Punk was only four days away from his 72nd birthday. I am an admirer of Iggy Pop as a front-man performer but I had not seen him perform since 2006 Big Day Out with the Stooges.

The scene in my photograph occurs 18 minutes into the concert towards the end of Iggy’s performance of the 1969 Stooges’ song "No Fun”, a song about being alone: “No fun to be alone / Walking by myself / No fun to be alone”. To avoid being alone as the song enters its final stages Iggy says: “Alright now! Get up here and dance with me!” .

My image shows audience members dancing on stage with Iggy Pop. The band is still playing No Fun and hidden behind the crowd of people. The gentleman in the black and white checked shirt holding the microphone stand is Jos, Iggy’s assistant. 

I love the look and gestures of the dancers - their ecstasy and state of joy - Iggy’s cocksure stance with his belt undone and that desperate lunge by the girl wanting to touch Iggy. All standout moments. 

With Easter looming, the photo looked like The Last Supper to me. It has since been likened to works by a number of other artists:

  • Caravaggio - the 16th century Italian artist who painted with a dramatic use of chiaroscuro.

  • Bill Viola - contemporary video artist especially his 2004 moving image art work “The Raft”.

  • Peter Howson - Scottish painter and British war artist whose paintings are crowded with a large cast of barbarous characters - see “Meshuggah” 2015.

It was Peter Campbell, a fellow photographer, who suggested a more appropriate reference: the biblical scene depicted in Mark 5: 25-34 from which line 28 became the photo’s title, MARK 5:28:

‘If I can touch even his clothes’, she had told herself, ‘I shall be well again.’

Sydney Opera House Music YouTube Video

On the 5th August, 2019 Sydney Opera House Music released a YouTube video of the same concert I photographed. The key timestamps are:

14:28 - “No Fun” begins.

16:46 - Iggy says: “Alright now! Get up here and dance with me!”.

18:08 - The girl’s hand briefly touches Iggy. Click!

A big thank you to Iggy Pop Management for using my photo on Iggy Pop’s website.

Iggy Pop’s new album “Free” is available at this link.