Standout Piece: Unlike many of the images in “Suspect Device,” photographer Chris Suspect’s current exhibition at the Leica Store on F Street NW, “Backstage, Ottobar, Baltimore, MD” doesn’t depict the raging mosh pits or screaming vocalists of the D.C. punk and hardcore scenes. Across a backdrop scrawled with graffiti, a woman takes a masked man’s face in her hands and plants a kiss on one of his cheeks, while the man watches the camera from behind oversized glasses.
See and Be Seen: Instead of focusing on bands’ onstage antics, Suspect often prefers to turn his attention to the audiences attending the shows he shoots, attempting to capture the quirkier personalities and interactions. Here, the man and woman are actually his friends Carrie and Enrique, posing for the picture in Ottobar’s massive backstage area. D.C. and Baltimore music is about much more than the brief flashes of catharsis that take place onstage, and everything about this image—-from Carrie’s pronounced lips to Enrique’s smirk from behind the luchador-style mask to the marked-up walls—-embodies the goofy moments of togetherness that often make up the space between shows.
Recollected Memories: Although “Suspect Device” documents D.C. area punk and hardcore shows over the last four or five years, Suspect’s style—high-contrast black-and-white images—recalls the look and feel of the scene’s rise in the 1980s. Since he didn’t take photos when attending shows back in the ‘80s, Suspect says he uses these images as a way to approximate glimpses of those memories.
Suspect Device is on display at the Leica Store through the end of April.