Thursday, June 24, 2010
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of photographing the amazing choreography of Lynn Barr and her fantastic dance troupe. Lynn had put together a series of pieces around the theme of walls, which she called (in Italian) "Muri" Walls. She has an outstanding capacity put forth ideas in gestural, iconic, condensed form combining dance and theater, featuring both dance pieces and spoken skits. One of the elements that makes her work so appealing to me as a photographer is her use of stationery lighting, rather than spotlights that follow her dancers. Her lighting creates a more sculptural effect, as the dancers are illuminated from the side and rear, in addition to the front. She also uses unconventional techniques, such as dancing with flashlights (subject: torture), blue backlit screens, and emphasizing the huge shadows behind the dancers. Check out her work at www.lynnbarr.com.
THE MERMAID PARADE in Coney Island on the Saturday closest to the start of summer, is a grand festival of joy in the body, in the sun, in friendship and good feeling. It draws crush crowds along the main drag of Coney Island from 2 to 4:30 pm, and ends up with most of the crowd moving up to the boardwalk and beach. There's a ribbon cutting ceremony featuring the celebrity king of the parade, who was Lou Reed this year, officially opening the summer season.
But the outstanding draw of the parade is the imagination of the home-made costumes (or lack thereof) by the marchers. All manner of sea creature is represented, with a definite tilt towards mermaids in all their sexiness, including a reliable cohort of pirates. There's always a political edge to the parade, which in years past has favored the preservation of Coney Island as a wide open playground. This year, however, the issue was much more serious: the BP oil spill. A number of people besmirched their costumes with oil-looking stains, and many carried signs reproaching BP for its arrogant carelessness.
Here's a selection of photos from the parade. You can find a more complete selection at www.printroom.com/pro/joelsimpsonphoto, where you can also order prints. And my collection from last year (when it rained) is still up.