@U2 Home Page - U2 News, Lyrics, Tour Dates & more       https://www.atu2.com
[Skip to Content]

"I'm Irish. I'm a rock star here. I'm not white either. The Irish are kind of — pinkish. Underdone." — Bono

Speech: Bono Opens Anton Corbijn Photography Exhibition

@U2 exclusive, courtesy Bas Ruesink


You can sit now, it's gonna be a long one


When I first met Anton, I had one request. "Make me look tall, skinny, intelligent, with a sense of humor." He said "So you want to look like me?"


It is a bit worrying seeing the mullet. Just like to mention, Ann...who's doing his hair is up there. A mullet is an Irish mohawk.

This museum in Groningen is a historical place, imaginitive place. A perfect place to see the the work of this great photographer. It is a bit overwhelming, almost spooky for me to see my own journey over nearly 20 years, from innocence to experience. I hope my face could be as open again as it is in that helicopter, taken in...I think it is 1982 before U2 took off.

Native Americans, Indians don't like photography, they feel their soul is stolen from them, when a picture is taken. I think I agree with that. You have to [...??] me, actors, models and rockstars to know that is definitly true. Having your picture taken is an intimacy. It is like having sex, you should not feel any difference but you do, in ways that can't be measured. I have been having sex with Anton Corbijn for nearly 20 years now.

(Laughter, whooo-ing)

He is very good at it, and even better -- he writes, he phones, stays in touch. Our relationship is ongoing. It is very liberal. I don't mind him seen out with Depeche Mode, Michael Stipe. I don't mind cowboy hats, [...??], old cars turning up on their album sleeves and videos. Anton always comes back, because Anton loves me, and I love Anton.


I think I have a feel for the essence of the man. Maybe it's a religious thing, he is the son of a clerk, his father Anton is here tonight, his mother Mary, his sister Aaf. His portraits have a kind of [...??] quality. It's a Dutch performers-eye that he throws on beauty and celebrity, there is a gentleman's guild in his appreciation in women, and kind of old fashion strength in his portraits of men that most could never measure up to. Most.


And if it gets steamy or erotic it is always the comic side, because with Anton the darkness is just around the corner from the daylight he loves to shoot in.

Religious also in the sense that Anton is an icon-maker. And is it not true that celebrity is this Millennium what religion was to the last? A thousand years ago, Nick Cave would have been Saint John, Dennis Hopper would have been Moses, Herman Brood is definitely Jeremiah. I...would have appeared as a Burning Bush [meaning God - BR].

The truth is...these are not pictures of celebrities. Anton does not do celebrity photos. In fact, celebrity is mocked in these pictures. A lot of the work we did together in the '90s took that as it seem. With U2 I always felt that Anton was photographing the songs, not us. They were much more interesting, and he dressed us up both with their qualities. It was always the work that mattered. Werk, werk, werk [meaning "work" in Dutch - BR]. Typical protestant.


He needs some Irish catholic friend.

(Laughter and applause)

You do know that the Dutch gave us the gold and the Irish flag...but...that's a story for another day.

I'd like to mention...cause I think Anton would have like to mention...Nassim, much more than a make-up artist, his muse. Anja, much more than a assistant, his counsel. Monica much more than a PA, his hair stylist.


So...there goes Anton Corbijn, God's hype, a new Dutch Master, a funny man, a serious photographer, a silent moviemaker who can dance with a retrospective in one of the great museums of the world. So what is his problem? Anton...wants to be a drummer!

(Big laughter and applause)

Hartelijk welkommen allemaal [meaning: "welcome everybody" in Dutch - BR]

© 2000 @U2.com