The Auction: Michael Jackson – Arno Bani
Written by Kate Allen
“The Auction: Michael Jackson” is first and foremost a catalogue of never-before-seen images taken in 1999 and are now up for sale, but is prefaced with, frankly, a flabbergasting account of how these unearthed images came to be taken but never published.
Opening this book is an extremely brief and unnecessary biography of Michael Jackson – surely anyone considering bidding on unseen photographs of the most famous entertainer of our time isn’t going to find any illuminating information on the four pages given to Jackson’s life and career? Following this is hyperbole incarnate: the details of how French fashion photographer Arno Barni shot a series of pictures which were ultimately rejected as the artwork for the 2001 album release Invincible is turned into ‘the amazing story of Michael and Arno.’ Obviously, we as fans can understand and sympathise with the excitement of meeting and working with Michael Jackson, but the overstatement of the supposed ‘fariytale’ of what was essentially a couple of meetings, one aborted photoshoot and then the final image taking that was cast aside for less ‘challenging’ images for Invincible, borders on laughable mostly due to the overblown and vacuously extravagant narration of this working relationship. Bizarrely, an omnipotent narrator is put in place and has the ability to reach into Michael Jackson’s brain. Please take this short extract as a prime example:
“One day, in April of 1999, he (Jackson) found himself alone…save for the cruel and overwhelming thoughts of his childhood…The bad memories came flooding back…Michael Jackson daydreamed and tried to forget his anguish and boredom.”
The amount of speculation and downright ridiculousness in this ‘once upon a time’ approach to explaining what it was like to work with Michael Jackson makes for poor style, with very little substance. Granted there are a few pinches of detail about working life around the King of Pop, such as the hubbub of assistants and administration that seemingly surrounded him, and the fact that the code name for Jackson for security purposes was “The Authority.”
And the pictures themselves? There are four sets of images; “Blue Eye” which shows Michael in a bejewelled Yves Saint Laurent jacket and one glitter covered eye, “Michael Jackson with Red Background” which obviously shows Michael before a red backdrop with his hands casually tucked in his pockets, “Michael Jackson in the Golden Cape” where Michael is transformed into a space-age Egyptian pharaoh, and “Michael Jackson with the Silver Hand” which pays a refreshingly modern homage to the iconic single, sequin glove as Michael’s hand is coated in dazzling silver glitter. Indeed these images are far more intriguing than the limited artwork that was eventually chosen for Invincible, but for anyone looking for new or exciting details on Michael Jackson may want to bypass this catalogue and its hilarious preface.