Kid Rock, Rick Rubin, and Eminem are just a few of Jeremy Deputat's high profile portrait subjects.
While much of the subject matter in Jeremy Deputat’s solo photo exhibit is stand-out by design, there are a few moments where the body of work transcends the subject to create outstanding impact. The ostensible point of interest in “Nothing is Forever," which opened at the Inner State Gallery on Friday, July 18th, is the photographer’s mainstay, which consists of professional publicity photos for some of the country’s biggest hip-hop and recording artists, including Detroit all-stars Eminem and Kid Rock, and undergrounders like Elxhi, Phat Kat, Moodymann and Danny Brown.
"Moodymann - G."
"Danny Brown - Adderall Admiral"
I would argue, however, that the more outstanding work is in Deputat’s street photography, which quietly registers the sincere connection this Romeo-born artist feels with Detroit. Rather than focusing on blight, Deputat chooses hopeful, upward-facing cityscapes, backed by sky, or blazing nightscapes that show a city alive with lights and activity.
There is a sense of hope and triumph in Deputat's cityscapes.
Also significant is Deputat’s choice to include a couple of non-professional (and presumably candid) portraits, one of which features a Cape Town soldier, standing at attention in defense of the entry point of a wooden gate with an assault rifle. In the adjacent room hangs, “Cold Steel,” a portrait that served as interior cover art for Phat Kat’s 2007 album, "Carte Blanche," which featured a song of the same name. In it, the rapper wields a similar grade of weapon, as he peers out a window, the Renn Center towers visible in the background.
"Tons of Guns."
"Phat Kat - Cold Steel."
How conscious a choice or bold a statement Deputat is making is unclear, but the inclusion of "Tons of Guns" elevates the body of work as a whole above a XXL centerfold, driving home the point that while you may be on an international hip-hop tour, you still encounter heavy armaments as a primary mechanism in dealing with life on the streets. This blogger can’t help but wonder if the show’s title, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” refers to the rise and fall of fame, of Detroit itself, or maybe just a simple reminder that in this life, we’re all just along for the ride.
Worth a visit, by any standard.
Inner State Gallery: 1410 Gratiot Ave, Detroit; 313-744-6505; innerstategallery.com