Is this really my first post for 2015? Shocking. But not shocking. Amongst scrambling for rent, I’ve been quite busy working on a zine and blog about Namibian art and performance with my two darling friends for the last few months. It’s called Artwolfe Zine – go check it out.
Anyway. I’m back now and I plan on posting more regularly. And this particular post is a slightly different but (I think) kind of important one to start with. About a month ago, a kind person by the name of Ellen Reynolds recently commented on this blog and shared a video that she had made, asking me to check it out. Which I did.
The video documents a project based in the United States, Philadelphia. It is a photographic mural project by the photographer, JJ Tiziou. The project is called How Philly Moves and after a bit of research, it didn’t take long to see the value and general greatness about a project such as this. JJ Tiziou invites dancers to come in for a photo shoot, he photographs them moving, doing their dance, with no instructions or direction. There is no choreographer or choreography, just dancers, a space and a photographer. The photographs are beautiful and what’s more, they have been shared and exhibited all over the city through installations, exhibitions and murals, the biggest one being the mural of various dancers across the Philadelphia International Airport.
The beautiful images that were created as a result of this project is something that excites me. Traces of dance, memory of movement is something that is almost just as thrilling as the act of movement itself. The photographs stand as a sort of testament or acknowledgement to the many individuals who move and dance in so many different ways. It’s quite comforting.
But something that excited me even more than the photographs was watching the video that documented this project. The initiative of opening doors to all dancers, interested in any type of dance, is something that is sadly rather rare and oddly difficult to orchestrate, which is why the photographs and murals work as such an effective driving force behind the project. Yet the point of the project seems to lie in the specific space intentionally constructed to allow anyone, everyone, to move how they want to. Tiziou says it himself in the video, “That’s what I’m realizing more and more… this project isn’t about photographs, it’s about letting people be themselves and creating a space where they can get outside of their self-consciousness and just sort of be… and enjoy.”
The authenticity of an artwork like this (to me) is very apparent. Authenticity is something that artists are constantly pursuing, not always achieving. Perhaps a part of this reason is the search for a specific aesthetic, then implementing whatever skill it takes to construct and create this aesthetic, which is a wonderful approach and very effective, too. But a project such as this is a wide open embrace, allowing in whatever and whoever. Since movement itself is a tricky thing to fake, the dancers who participated in this project make themselves simultaneously vulnerable, strong and sincere.
Or perhaps the authenticity and effectiveness in this sort work lies in the simple fact that it is ‘fun’. And that’s all. At the end of the day, movement is key. The static nature of photography, the somehow contradicting nature of ‘capturing’ dance and making it still, weirdly enough enables motion. And as one dancer in the video so aptly points out, “Just move… moving is good.” Does it really have to be more complicated than that?
So if you choose to watch this video, I hope you be inspired to move. Even if it’s just a little butt wiggle in your office chair, a head bounce to your favourite song or small skip off the bus, I hope you find a moment to incorporate a bit of non-functional movement into your day!