The dancers, with their callused exterior and sensitive character, represent the tenuous relationship between the strength of the body and the fragility of the soul. Using their body as an expressive tool, male dancers subvert the heteronormative idea of emotionally suppressed masculinity.
I deeply identify with this perception and it closely relates to how I experience my own masculinity. Our shared idea about gender roles is a generative force in the dialog between us and is threaded throughout the work.
While the photographer identifies with the gentleness dancers embody, their intense physicality is completely foreign and fascinating to him. By photographing them, Nir Arieli both observes and choreographs their movement. The photo session with a dancer is very technical but extremely intimate. Receiving the photographer’s directions, the dancer relinquishes his agency, placing his trust in him that creates a momentary connection that dissolves when the image is captured.
This use of photography as a way to connect with others is at the core of Nir Arieli’s practice. As an introvert, says Arieli, I depend on the camera for access to alternative avenues of communication. It is inherent in the photographic ‘contract’ that the subject lowers their guard, leaving himself exposed. In Inframen, the photographer took this process further, reaching a new level of intimacy with his subjects, stripping them not only of their clothes but also of their skin.
For the dancers, this intimate connection is inseparable from their desire to perform. Motivated by the cathartic feeling of being observed and admired, the dancers act as if the camera is an audience. Even in something as simple as a portrait, their expressive qualities are evident. Being artists in their own right, the dancers filter the photographer’s instructions through their physical vocabulary and personal sensibility.
This collaboration brings to the surface the conflicting nature of photography and dance – one is necessarily a sequence of moments, whereas the other consists of a singular moment. Inframen suggests the possibility of movement that lies beneath the surface. In their stillness, the dancers are always in motion.