Monað modes lust mæla gehƿylce ferð to feran.
Remarkable photography project from Jordan Matter, who spent two years convincing professional dancers to strip naked and pose in front of city landmarks around the world; it sounds a little prurient, perhaps, but the results are absolutely breathtaking.
The human body emerges in these pictures as a kind of movable sculpture, conveying very little of the sexuality you'd normally associate with nude photography, but calling to mind instead Classical art, anatomy textbooks, and the expression of a complete control over the muscles and gestures of a body in prime fitness. I mean…check this out:
Now that's impressive. A surprising amount of the dancers' personality comes across in their poses, especially considering the amount of bravery it took to capture many of these shots – some of the subjects talk, in a behind-the-scenes section at the end of the book, about the terror and the ‘ecstasy’ of stepping out of their clothes on the middle of Broadway or wherever. I would have liked more of those interviews and stories – Matter says that he had only ten or fifteen seconds to shoot in many cases, not least because of the risk of arrest.
He notes at the beginning that none of the photographs have been ‘digitally altered or composited’, which is pretty impressive – it's hard to believe that the colours at least have not been tweaked in post-production, despite his assurance that ‘Photoshop is unnecessary when dancers are this fearless’. I am frankly open-mouthed in my appreciation of how beautifully he arranged the framing and lighting in these shots, given how little time he had to work with.
It's a strange way to spend two years of your life, but he and his subjects have produced a really wonderful, playful homage to the human body and its relation to our environment. It's not an expensive book, but you should probably factor in the costs of renewing your gym membership, which, after flicking through a couple of pages, will be top of your to-do list.