"Embodiment" Photo Series
Embodiment began as a visualization of dance corrections, a physical representation of the words dancers hear every day in technique classes. I began with my own corrections, utilizing those words to highlight the uncooperative physicality I fight against in an attempt to achieve the perfection demanded by the dance aesthetic. My concentration in dance is ballet and I wanted to translate my experience in that field into a form of visual expression.
This process on my own body and the bodies of my fellow dancers drew in a number of factors. I wanted the photos to be at once beautiful to look at and yet to reveal a darker undertone in their subject matter. Yet I did not wish to be too overtly negative. Rather, I hoped to demonstrate the classical ballet aesthetic with smooth lines of cursive text while simultaneously translating the spoken word of our instructors into something more universally tangible. I chose to contour the natural muscular and skeletal patterns of the human body with these corrections, highlighting what area of the body the dancers saw as the source of their perceived problem. In addition to this concept, I wanted my lines to reflect those a surgeon makes on a patient before operating, particularly cosmetic surgery lines. This led to my color palette of red, blue, and black lines, and reinforces the idea of corrections as being forcible alterations of a dancer’s physicality.
I attempted to remain neutral as to the areas of the body being photographed as well as the corrections themselves. I asked my dance models to come prepared with four corrections to be photographed, and left them to distill the words they hear in class and to discern where they thought of the corrections as applying to their own body. I was fascinated with how different each person’s body was, what they saw as their primary corrections, and yet how similar many of the overarching themes were within the execution of the project. It was an incredible to realize the seemingly infinite opportunity for variation within the spectrum of human physicality, and to then ponder the strict aesthetics of our dance practice in hindsight.
My method of presentation took on another element of aesthetics in and of itself. My exploration resulted in a multitude of photos and ensuing prints; there are twenty four photos in total which yielded forty-eight individual prints. I wanted the viewer to be able to take in each dancer in her individual photos, and decided to suspend the prints from the ceiling. This yielded a performative element, and arranging the photos reminded me much of a choreographic work. I chose to use pink ribbon as another symbol of the dance world, ballet in particular, drawing on the aesthetics of pointe shoe and their relation to ethereal loftiness.
Thank you to Christina, Haley, Bianca, Lilibeth, and Aurora for taking the time to help me with this project.