skin to skin
Curated by Wayne McGregor CBE, the multi-award-winning director and resident choreographer of The Royal Ballet, this year’s La Biennale di Venezia, 16th International Festival of Contemporary Dance – titled Boundary-Less – asks us to imagine a life without constraint, lived outside of artificial boxes and borderlines.
Fitting the brief, last summer saw London-born photographer Indigo Lewin commissioned by McGregor to document his first year as Artistic Director of the Biennale Danza. Diverting away from traditional dance photography, Lewin took a voyeuristic approach, which sees bodies collide and merge during intimate moments of performance. “Transferring my fascination with the figure, I was captivated by the intimacy found in the body language between the dancers,” said Lewin. “Focusing on physical embrace and interlocking forms, I found that much of the true beauty was to be found in the quiet moments in between shows. Post-rehearsal stretches, sweat- drenched torsos and worn-out socks spoke just as loudly of the essence of dance as the dancing itself.”
Now, a year on, Lewin’s stunning series is showing in the Arsenale – Sala d’Armi A as part of this year’s celebrations, bringing the photographer’s brand of grainy and soul-bearing portraiture to Venice’s sun-kissed festival grounds.
Untitled, After Rehearsals, Biennale Danza 2021, Photo © Indigo Lewin
In Indigo Lewin: Artist In Residence 21 the act of touch takes on a new, striking significance when considering its contexts. Her images show the body as it engages in states both emotional and proud, with subjects flexing perfect arches on feet that are scuffed and dusty, or diving into fresh towels after giving their all – and then some – to the art of performance. Sometimes this cast interacts with each other, their jostling limbs stretching out over naked bodies, fighting, hugging and holding. It’s the intimate that Lewin ultimately catches in her wake, be that with the self, or the rehearsal spaces in which her dancers find they can let themselves go.
Focus wains and blurs, whilst static and harsh light static speak to an old-timey immediacy in Lewin’s practice, capturing these bristling bursts of passion in chance shots that cannot be altered or trimmed down. Her models are simply to be taken as they are, or watched as they twirl.
Indigo Lewin: Artist In Residence 21 is open at the La Biennale di Venezia, 16th International Festival of Contemporary Dance from 22nd July – 31st July 2022.
Above: Shaquelle Charles, Post Performance, Biennale Danza 2021, Photo © Indigo Lewin