Grasp the sparrow's tail
The practice of Taijiquan is one of the most important parts of my life since several years.
Speaking about this martial art with non-practicing people, but also during the course presentation evenings with those who approach this discipline for the first time, I realized that, in the collective imagination, Taijiquan is simply associate to beauty, elegance and harmony of movements.
I have to admit, as a practitioner and instructor, I have always considered beauty and elegance secondary and harmony as an aim, achievable only with training and effort.
To enjoy all the benefits listed in the myriad of publications dedicated to this discipline (balance, rootedness, postural alignment to name a few of the most evident), constant and continuous work is absolutely necessary.
Even the word “Kung Fu” (功 夫) or “Gong fu”, widespread and used (improperly) in the West to indicate the whole set of Chinese martial arts (Wushu), supports this thesis; it can be translated in fact as “Hard work”, “Exercise played skilfully”, “Becoming expert through exercise”.
However, it is undeniable the continuous practice and the benefits derived from it make movements harmonious, elegant and... handsome.
For this reason, inspired by František Kupka’s studies on motion decomposition and intrigued by the idea of capturing the beauty in some individual positions, I started this series focusing mainly on arms and legs work trying to remain loyal to one of the fundamental principles of art. Indeed, just like in training, only the movement of the external part is visible, evident and “illuminated” while the internal one and the “Dantien” (the centre) lead all body, remaining hidden.
The choice of black and white refers to the philosophy that permeates this ancient art; in fact, each position is presented in accordance with the Taoist concept of Yin (black background) and Yang (white background) and then “merged” into two other distinct images, in a cycle that recalls the perfect balance generated by the continuous alternation of quiet (Yin) and movement (Yang). The white "Yang" photos also recall traditional Chinese ink and water painting (shuǐmòhu).
The idea of including the fusion of the two images matured during the editing phase.
Symmetries generate interesting subjective visions (faces, objects, animals, ghosts etc.), very similar to those that I have tried to evoke in the previous series (Urban Animals, Trick or Treat and Hell in particular).
Presenting them in the Yin and Yang background, as for the individual positions, has proved useful not only to respect the principle expressed a few lines above, but also because black and white touch different emotional spheres, thus giving rise to discrepant visions and definitely charming.
To date, the project includes six Taijiquan Yang style positions (twenty-four photographs) in square format, but I do not exclude the possibility of adding other positions in the future.