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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lois Greenfield - State Of Grace

Combining photography and dance, Lois Greenfield reveals the elusive beauty of movement

State Of GraceThe photography of Lois Greenfield is an exploration of time as well as stunning images of dance. Performers frozen in space preserve a moment, and lead the viewer to ponder the moments before and after the fraction of a second captured by her camera. Greenfield's work inspires us to reevaluate how we see the world, and movement, in particular.

During the early years of her career, Greenfield saw the photography of dance differently than her contemporaries. However, the limitations of conventional photography and circumstances prevented her from creating the types of images she hoped for.

“At first, I was frustrated by the limitations of photographing dress rehearsals,” Greenfield explains. “The lighting was almost always low and changed constantly. I could barely eke out an acceptable ƒ-stop and shutter speed to produce at best a very grainy picture. The dark backgrounds didn't help either, nor did the fact that the dancers were often not dancing in full costume or with full energy.”

When it came to dance, Greenfield recalls, photography was used as a documentary device. The images were meant to portray the precisely choreographed movements of the dancers. Yet even with the best results, the photographs were always secondary to the dance. Seeking the ability for greater control of choreography and lighting, she moved into a studio. Her epiphany occurred in 1982 when she photographed dancer David Parson.

“This was the first time I was asked to photograph a dancer outside the context of a specific dance,” says Greenfield. “This experience of liberating the dancer from the dance and privileging improvisation over choreography was what really captured my imagination.”

That opportunity has led to an extensive exploration of “the unseeable”—the slivers of time that, in total, create the beauty of dance—which has been published in her two books, Breaking Bounds and Airborne.


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