Man O To

1.The Devil 2.Strength3.The Sun 4.The Star 5. The Fool 6. The Lover 7. The Magician 8. The Hanged Man 9. Death 10. The Hermit

 

This photo project is called ‘Man O To’ after a ghazal by a 13-th century Persian sufi poet Rumi. 

It translates as ‘You and I’. 

The poem talks about two people simply enjoying each other’s company:

“That moment (is) joyous and blessed when we are sitting
(together) in the veranda, you and I; with two forms and faces,
(yet) with one soul, you and I.” 

Further on the poem describes a state “devoid of “you” and “I” – a moment of ecstatic consciousness that occurs when the personal and separate self or ego passes away in “annihilation”. 

Like most of Rumi poetry, it can be interpreted as a personal journey within yourself. Each of the photographs shows the metamorphosis caused by power, fear, love, illusion, despair towards a final transformation by death.

I picked a Tarot card name that would most closely convey the sense of each state: The Devil, Strength, The Sun, The Star, The Fool, Lovers, The Magician, The Hanged Man, Death, The Hermit. 

Being a dancer I’ve always considered physical movement and the body to be the gateway to spiritual knowledge. In this series, I wanted to capture those moments of pure awareness and presence that I experienced sometimes during dance performances. I believe that human body can’t lie in movement. To me, dance is the expression of life that is fleeting, momentary, always on the verge of being interrupted by death. Dance doesn’t exist outside or after its performer. No live performance can be fully repeated or preserved like a painting or a photograph. 

When working with a person, I can only attempt to catch a reflection of this ecstatic sense of letting go and abandonment. After photographing dancers, actors and movement performers for a few years, I developed a kind of improvised technique which gets us both into a ‘flow’ – they move freely in a meditative state and I move with them as a witness. 

The ‘neo-raphaelite’ look has been mostly inspired by the early 20th century photography with soft natural light and long exposures, as well as pre-raphaelite art and Rodin’s sculptures.

 



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