For millennia, “nirvana” has been a term associated with belief systems of the Indian subcontinent. But in 1988, a band from a small coastal town in Washington state decided to create some new associations with this word . . . through their music.
Active for just six years, Nirvana left an indelible mark on the late twentieth century that remains visible today. Photographer and self-described “music fanatic” Charles Peterson, a fellow twenty-something from the suburbs of Seattle, was present with his camera as a genre took form, and his images have become synonymous with the sounds, styles, movement and attitude known as grunge.
Charles Peterson’s Nirvana, in the tradition of many great documentary photobooks, expands beyond Peterson’s iconic images of the band seen repeatedly over the last thirty years (on album covers, in magazines, and in dozens of compilation books and exhibitions focused on this music and its birth era) to highlight gems never before published. Over a five-year photo edit, Peterson looked at each one of thousands of frames, considering what drew him to Nirvana in the first place—their songs. He honed in on the compositions that stimulated visceral memories of their live performances.
The resulting selection of photographs and their carefully constructed sequence mash up venues and years, suffering and the sublime, to arrive at a visual experience that one cannot help but also feel, and hear.
Book design by Jeff Kleinsmith.
9 x 12.25 inches vertical; ~90 black and white photographs; 168 pages;. Hardcover. Foreword by Krist Novoselic.
Charles Peterson (b.1964, Longview, Washington) is internationally known for his photographs of the Seattle music scene of the late eighties and nineties. He began making photographs while a student at Bothell High School, and then went on to study photography at the University Washington, where he first met as friends many of his future subjects.
Peterson’s distinct visual style and early work for Sub Pop Records became an important signifier of the phenomenon known as grunge.
His photographs have been featured in numerous publications, as well exhibited in group and solo exhibitions around the world. They are included in many private collections, and the permanent collections of the Seattle Art Museum and MoPOP.
Krist Novoselic (b. 1965, Compton, California) is co-founder of Nirvana.
Nirvana originated in Aberdeen, Washington in the late 1980s through the energies of Novoselic and Kurt Cobain. They were joined by drummers including Chad Channing (1988–1990) and David Grohl (1990–1994). Nirvana’s live performances, music videos, and albums Bleach (1989), Nevermind (1991), Incesticide (1992), In Utero (1993) and MTV Unplugged in New York (1994) made their music a defining component of the late twentieth century internationally.