This set of images, of which I think as a personal study of time, movement, and space, was photographed in Cologne (Germany) in 2014, during the final choreographic stages of what later became an award winning dance piece entitled The Virgin’s Voice.
The photographs are not manipulated digitally. They are long exposures of mostly a sixth to a third of a second – times chosen in relation to the dancers’ movements.
I wanted to be able to see just enough detail of the dancers’ bodies while simultaneously exploring how their movements transformed their shapes and appearances in this time frame.
Photographic devices, since their very beginnings, allow us to make the invisible visible by offering us alternative time frames of perception. Eadweard Muybridge famously froze horses in mid air through split second exposures and found out how they gallop, while others were able to patiently collect ghostly photons through extreme long exposures and glimpse celestial bodies light-years away, too faint to ever see with the naked eye. Our knowledge of these phenomena is intricately connected to the ways and devices we use to explore them.
Seen from this temporal perspective, the dancers seem to melt into each other and fold with the space around them. These photographs, I believe, correspond with their subjective experiences.
By now, more than a year has passed since I took these images, and yet, for me, they remained hauntingly present. I have been looking at and thinking about them ever since. In my journal, on that day in February, I described my impressions thus:
space folding unto space, blue unto blue, of petals; your body, your movements, your touch; why do I recall the ocean? that vast blue filling everything, from seed to sky, and each and every breath and moment; your movements in time in that blue of ocean; folding, unfolding, like petals, like wave upon wave.
what of those moments? What of that space that you fold into (yourself)? Inhale, exhale, three breaths, four steps melting into emptiness; folding, unfolding. You wouldn’t know where your here begins, nor your now is ending; you wouldn’t know; you just move;
Liquescens – critique of an exhibition
Mina Petrić – 28.8.2015 – Visit on PATOS festival website
Liquescens is a photographic exhibition of performance at a festival for theatre. Can it capture the live medium of a dance through its static frame?
Liquescens – the Latin for ‘liquification’ – contains photographs made by Daniel Grünfeld during the final stage of the production of a German/Israeli dance piece by choreographer Reut Shemesh, entitled “The Virgin’s Voice”. It is a series of long exposures, attempting to track the movement of the dancers.
Figures emerging from the whiteness of the background seem to have no ground beneath their feet – only an occasional line can evoke some sense of space. Time is also relative to the viewer – the dancers seem to float in some ethereal, eternal realm. Having abstracted or obscured these primary categories of human consciousness, the artist can communicate more directly, or perhaps profoundly, on a subconscious level.
Even without knowing the title of the play one can have strong associations to sex and religion – maybe because the figures represented resemble Botticelli’s Graces. This resemblance is given its justification in one of the photographs where the three women form a circle – here, just like in the Primavera – there is no perspective, the location is magical, there is a strong sense of a ritual, movement, burst of energy created by the presence of Spring itself, youth, and a transcendental, lyrical aura about it.
Perhaps no exhibition can transfer the narrative of a play. Instead, Grünfeld takes the play and offers it a new form in which to live and breathe. The spectator can clearly feel the fragility of the figures presented, but also the strength of their bodies and the blood rushing through them. Internal turmoil alongside the precision of movement.
This reading is supported by a colour palette restricted in order to achieve a symbolic function. The only colors we see can be read as symbols. Green for nature, freshness, fertility. Red for blood, energy, passion, and purple for mystery, magic. These colors mix and seem almost liquid, such as dancers seem to melt into each other, appear and disappear in the fabric of space surrounding them.
What makes these photographs so haunting is that they provoke an idea that science has proven but the mind cannot contemplate – that we are made from the same fabric as the material world. The atoms that make a human body today will tommorow form a wing of a bird or a petal or an ocean. This liquescens cannot be caught by the human eye in the space and time – we know, however, that if we remove this frame, all that remains is ‘liquid scene’ of the body becoming space.