Janette Beckman, "Mod Twins", 1979, gelatin silver print, 11x14.

Janette Beckman, “Mod Twins”, 1979, gelatin silver print, 11×14.

Janette Beckman

In 1979, Janette Beckman lived in London where she worked for a weekly music magazine and taught photography at a North London college. During her time there, she spotted Chuka and Dubem aka ‘The Islington Twins’ hanging out in the school yard and asked if she could photograph them. At the time the two were a fixture around the streets of Islington dressing in identical high style and hanging out at the entrance to the Highland and Islington tube station. Born to Nigerian nationals who immigrated to the UK, the twins came from a lower-middle class background and grew up fascinated by the mod lifestyle and the high-brow fashions of the people they were surrounded by. Wearing Sta-Prest suits and Frank Wright loafers, they spent most of their time with their friends (they were wildly popular) and entertained travelers who danced to the latest ska and reggae music playing from their boom box. Now 49, they continue their lifestyle despite the fact that neither has ever held a full-time job, their qualifications remain elusive and their living situation is extremely precarious. When Mary Mount of The Guardian profiled them in a 2007 article, she asked whether they think about how things might have been if they had taken jobs, risen-up the ladder and settled down with a modest income. ìThat,î they replied, ìwould have meant we would not be as free as we are to think what we want, read what we want, say what we want. We would never have wanted that.

Janette Beckman (NYC) is an English born photographer who began her career at the dawn of punk rock, shooting for publications like The Face and Melody Maker. She has photographed bands from The Clash to Boy George, as well as three Police album covers. Her portraits of the British Punk, Mod, and 2 Tone scenes are collected in Made in the UK: The Music of Attitude, 1977-1982 (Powerhouse Books, 2005). After moving to New York in 1982, she was drawn to the underground Hip Hop scene. Her photographs of pioneers Afrika Bambaata, Run DMC, Salt ëní Pepa, Grandmaster Flash and 1980ís style are collected in The Breaks, Styliní and Profiliní 1982-1990 (Powerhouse Books, 2007). Her latest book documents the East LA Hoyo Maravilla gang (Dashwood Books, 2011). Janette has had solo exhibitions at the Arkitipís Project Space (Los Angeles, CA). She has also exhibited work at the Morrison Hotel Gallery (New York City, NY), the Paul Smith (London, England), the Collette (Paris, France), the Isetan (Tokyo, Japan), and others. Janette has also been published in numerous magazines including Rolling Stone, Esquire, and Glamour.

janettebeckman.com