Is Dancers in the Parks part of the problem or part of the solution with what is being talked about in this video? Somewhere in between or completely irrelevant? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this question and about the video in general.

There is also a longer 8 minute trailer available.

3 Comments

  1. Kate Clayborne

    Quelle surprise, Kate has thoughts on the patriarchy working through popular media!

    First of all, I am psyched that you’re linking to this trailer because Miss Representation is by all accounts an awesome documentary and I am still annoyed that I haven’t had the chance to see it.

    BUT re: Dancers in the Parks, I think that there is a very important difference in intentionality, as far as I have seen, with this project. It’s not about objectification; the young women you’re photographing aren’t simply relegated to being a part of the scenery, they are interacting with it. Strikingly: they are all full people with faces, rather than just body parts! And sometimes they even get to look straight into the camera! How sad is it that that’s praiseworthy, right? Their bodies are obviously a focus, but the showcase is on skills and strength rather than sexuality – not saying that strength can never be shown through sexuality, but given the eye through which we’re seeing them is male, it’s an awfully tricky line to play near if one were going that direction (and here we’re ignoring how there would be an extra layer of sketch given how young some of the dancers are). So I guess I should say that the focus is on skill and strength, instead of sexual attractiveness vis-a-vis the hetero male gaze. They are allowed personalities that may at times be outside of that ideal. Relatedly, I do think that if you’re looking to deconstruct the general ‘male authority/photographer-female object/model’ power structure, the behind-the-scenes videos are a great way to do that. There, the dancers are, again, shown as actual people with thoughts and personalities and agency, doing what is clearly at many times difficult and impressive work. And of course, I started this out by saying ‘intentionality;’ obviously it’s not as though you couldn’t have the best intentions and still go somewhere highly problematic, just by virtue of not being aware enough. But it seems as though this is something you are cognizant of, and a risk that you are willing to actively resist, which is definitely a way to work towards a solution!

    Anyway, hopefully this wall of text was somewhat useful?

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    • Kate Clayborne

      Oh holy cow, that was even longer than I realized while typing.

      Reply
  2. Dave

    Bodies are bodies. They are not scenery, nor are they objects. It is impossible to remove attraction entirely from this unless you are successfully dehumanizing these people. You simply aren’t doing that.You aren’t hiding their form behind ultra-loose fitting garments, in fact you are doing the exact opposite. You are working with the form of a body, curves, lines: human elements.

    The real question here then would be: Is this a good kind of attraction or bad? Are the elements in these photos presented in a way that is empowering and uplifting intellectually, spiritually, physically, personally and socially to women and to men? Dance is an emotional, sexual, spiritual, physical and intellectual art. It is a human art. Dance that continually misses these elements falls short of the art form. Certainly all dance doesn’t have to be all of those things at once, but they are definitely part of it. One of the things that I find compelling about dance is that it plays with this spark of vitality that is intrinsic to being human. We are alive and dance explores that and all of the elements of being alive. What I think is both challenging and rewarding in your work, is the combination, and sometimes juxtaposition, of such a “human” art with inhuman surroundings. It is jarring sometimes, but interesting none-the-less. In some of my favorite of your pictures, you have keyed in on certain crossover elements, things that exist in both the inhuman and human world: elegance, grace, majesty, even hardness or non-aesthetic elements, and have brought them out in your pictures.

    The video above is bringing grievance against art that is pulling down women, making them less than they are and should be. You certainly aren’t doing that. When you are at your best, your work is very human. I would hate to see (and I haven’t) that element missing in your work due to reactions of other artists’ work that are demeaning toward women.

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Thoughts?