To be a dancer is to work your body to the breaking point. In my project Inframen, I have created a series of portraits using an infrared technique that reveals blemishes that lie under the dancer’s abused skin, like scars, stretch marks, sun damage, etc. Like a form a voyeurism, this photographic process strips away the dancer’s outer shell, exposing hidden flaws. In Inframen, the surface of the skin becomes a metaphor for the dancer's interiority.
The dancers, with their callused exterior and sensitive character, represent the tenuous relationship between the strength of the body and the fragility of the soul. Using their body as an expressive tool, male dancers subvert the heteronormative idea of emotionally suppressed masculinity. I deeply identify with this perception and it closely relates to how I experience my own masculinity. Our shared idea about gender roles is a generative force in the dialog between us and is threaded throughout the work.
While I identify with the gentleness dancers embody, their intense physicality is completely foreign and fascinating to me. By photographing them I both observe and choreograph their movement. The photo session with a dancer is very technical but extremely intimate. Receiving my directions, the dancer relinquishes his agency, placing his trust in me. This creates a momentary connection between us, an intimacy that dissolves when the image is captured.
This use of photography as a way to connect with others is at the core of my practice. As an introvert, I depend on the camera for access to alternative avenues of communication. It is inherent in the photographic ‘contract’ that the subject lowers their guard, leaving himself exposed. In Inframen I wished to take this process further, reaching a new level of intimacy with my subjects, stripping them not only of their clothes but also of their skin.
For the dancers, this intimate connection is inseparable from their desire to perform. Motivated by the cathartic feeling of being observed and admired, the dancers act as if the camera is an audience. Even in something as simple as a portrait, their expressive qualities are evident. Being artists in their own right, the dancers filter my instructions through their physical vocabulary and personal sensibility.
This collaboration brings to the surface the conflicting nature of photography and dance – one is necessarily a sequence of moments, whereas the other consists of a singular moment. Inframen suggests the possibility of movement that lies beneath the surface. In their stillness, the dancers are always in motion.