Portraits of Mystery

August 19, 2015

Bobbi Jo: This series was shot in partnership with Dance Truck, a mobile performance platform based Atlanta, Georgia.  My goals for this series were to explore the movement of a human body in motion that our eyes often miss and to engage communities through all states of this work.  The shot took place at Wheat Street Urban Gardens in a parked 10×10 U-Haul type truck during a neighborhood party.  One by one, six talented Atlanta dancers transformed an ordinary truck into a magical performance space where one constant light their stage.  The dancers’ bodies became my paintbrush in the frame of my camera as I slowed down my shutter to capture the motion that our eye often misses. The final series of images where shown at the Genema Gallery as part of the arts ministry of Christ Church Presbyterian.

Brehm: You’re using the craft of photography — a craft often associated with stillness rather than motion — to express movement.  In a sense, it reminds me of the Futurist sculptors who shaped their sculptures (still objects) to communicate motion.  Can you share some thoughts about pushing your own craft beyond its limits?

Bobbi Jo: In 2011, I was in a difficult place emotionally and spiritually.  My heart had become hardened to the world around me due to a broken relationship and a long season of burn out. I was also getting bored with the fact that my craft had become an all-consuming, mass-producing product business rather than treating it as the art form that it is.  Then, on an extremely cold night in early 2011, I was invited to a Dance Truck, a mobile performance platform in Atlanta.  It was freezing outside, much like my heart at the time, but as soon as the first dancer swayed into the truck, I felt my heart begin to warm me from the inside out.  That night, the craft of dance, had the power to transform my feelings. It taught me to see again, and I changed artistic pursuits.  My decision to capture motion was in response to my heart being deeply moved by that Dance Truck performance. I desired to capture the movement that was instrumental in moving my heart out of a place of brokenness in hopes that the work I would create would help others experience something similar.

Brehm: You’re using your own craft to capture another craft (dance).  Can you share some thoughts about bringing the two crafts together for you?  What do you love about the motion of dance and what insights did it offer to your own craft of photography?

Bobbi Jo: There is a beauty that comes from the merging of two art forms.  Each brings something different to the table and as you blend them, a new beauty often emerges in both the artwork and the community that is formed as you create with others.  In collaborating with other artists, especially dancers, my work is able to be challenged, strengthened, and encouraged in a way that I am limited in doing on my own.   As a photographer, I highly value being able to use my craft to encourage, strengthen, and assist other artists in developing their craft.  With photographing dance, in the words of Blake Beckham, the co-artistic director of The Lucky Penny, I am able to offer “documentation of the ephemeral nature dances as they unfold: the beauty of a gesture as it vanishes; the intimacy of bodies as they caress an collide; the momentary jolt we feel while flying through the air or hurtling towards the ground.  Photography becomes a very significant and necessary extension of the choreography because when the curtain falls, the photograph is the only remaining image – it inscribes a legacy for the work.”

BOBBI JO BROOKS has been friending the world through photography since 2002. She fell in love with photography in college after she met her then-roomates's Nikon SLR Camera. Looking through the lens, felt like she was home. She says, "it's magic to captures someone's personality in a photo, and there are so many moments- like weddings, children's birthday, the first perfect smile-that beg to be kept forever."

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