“Didn’t Know You Cared”

Images: Phil Knott Words: Cedric Shine



When we look at pictures of the dead sometimes there’s this preoccupation with the eyes, the seat of one’s soul. Looking for some sign that they knew their time wasn’t long for this world. Amy Winehouse died of a drug overdose at the tender age of 27. She had cried out to us in her music. In death — we were fascinated with her documentary— how did we let such an incredible talent slip through our grasp when her cries were loud as f*ck? So when I had the pleasure to look at Phil Knott’s unreleased portraits of the late pop star, I was immediately looking for something in Amy’s eyes, something that wasn’t there because I was projecting my own reckoning with mortality and trying to see it on her face.

“She has to be remembered as the great Amy Winehouse… She didn’t give a f*ck.” Veteran photographer, Phil Knott, curator of “Didn’t Know You Cared” waxes poetically about his fellow Londoner Amy Winehouse as he readies the world for 27 unreleased images of the fallen pop star at Mixduse Gallery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

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Knott, whose shot everyone from Liam Gallagher to Jay Z has an impressive career that’s spanned 3 decades. Mixduse Gallery is a familiar collaborator, in October he debuted his Heroes & Legends collection there with the likes of Aaliyah, Guru of Gangstarr, Seal and Daft Punk. “I did everybody in the nineties, I came up in the 90’s.”

But his Amy collection feels different. For starters, when Knott shot Winehouse she wasn’t the household name we know her now to be. Knott likens his unreleased images to the iconic Marilyn Monroe.

Remember Marilyn Monroe, all the iconic pictures — the skirt, the wind and the New York thing duh duh duh. And then we saw pictures come out before she was blonde, she was a young redhead girl on the beach and that was the beginning of the tragic Marilyn Monroe. Full of happiness, zest, full of life and like Amy it spiraled a bit and I want to show people this is her before all the madness took over.

Phil almost named the exhibit, ‘Amy, I Love You!’ “…But that sounded like shit, it sounded like you don’t mean it. That’s a thing she might say (didn’t know you cared), it’s off the cuff. I wanted it to be like a conversation, like she was saying something. ‘I didn’t know you were still interested. Who me?’”

I asked Phil what he wanted the images to convey to the world, his response — “I want people to see the beauty of Amy Winehouse.” On May 4th we’ll all be privy to the “cheeky London girl” Phil Knott is determined to make sure history gets right.