Dancing With a Camera
Braverman Gallery presents a solo exhibition by Gadi Dagon, who has been documenting Ohad Naharin’s work with the Bat-Sheva dance company exclusively for 18 years, both on stage and behind the scenes.
Gadi Dagon forms an entire visual lexicon; movement slows, and light reflecting off the dancers’ bodies sketches their gestures in space, newly written for the camera lens (Nikon, 85m”m/300m”m). With his help, dance goddesses and photographic ghosts unite in a new calligraphy, at once peaceful and stormy (in choreography and photography alike things are, as it where, written), and unknown letters inscribe bewitching, abstract body forms. All this through straightforward photography – no reworking through Photoshop, or any other manipulation; simply “point-and-shoot”. Following over thirty years of sport, news, political, art, fashion, advertising, theater, opera and dance photography – most of which as an assigned professional – Dagon is breaking photographic molds.
He seeks to broaden and loosen the boundaries of photography, heedful, instead, to the choreographer’s and dancer’s ambition to conquer the body’s and dance’s borders alike. Gadi Dagon embraces the spirit of dance and departs from photography’s enforced frozen moment and from his self-imposed loyalty to documentation. From here on out, it seems that Dagon is dancing to a new tune.
Gadi Dagon’s photographic language owes much to Pina Bausch and Ohad Naharin. Inspired by their work, Dagon has evolved from an excellent professional photographer into a photographic choreographer. His visual language eagerly, almost zealously, responds to the dance spirits’ clutch on the body, letting it sprout wings. His photography also serves his own “dance” in attendance to the ephemeral moment of the body that flits across the stage only. Dagon reconstructs dance.
The dancing body practically erases itself and in so doing awakens a desire to represent it. The dancing body is always on the verge of self-annihilation; dance becomes a perpetual rehearsal for death. The body remains, but the dance disappears. Dagon taunts the laws of photography, as the dancer taunts the laws of the body.
Gadi Dagon’s current work offers an enchanted fantasy that impersonates the splendor and allure of movement: before, during and after the fact. It is a lofty, romantic fantasy, born through challenging the laws of photography, nature and gender, through defiance and subversion. A powerful drama that encompasses the viewer in the spectacle without allowing a hold on it. This is the magic of dance. If it could be captured, it wouldn’t be dance.
Naomi Aviv, curator.
An additional exhibition of Dagon’s work is currently on display at RED Festival (Reggio Emilia’s dance festival) – this year spotlighting Naharin’s work, as well as Israeli dance in general, in honor of Israel’s 60th celebration.