Lois Greenfield,
Breaking Bounds
(Chronicle, 1992)

Sometimes, one might wonder if there's anything new and exciting that a photographer can do with the human form.

The answer is yes. For a recent example, pick up a copy of Lois Greenfield's excellent photo volume, Breaking Bounds.

The volume collects 87 black and white photographic images taken by Greenfield from 1982 to 1991, in which she collaborated with a talented group of dancers for impromptu movement. The pieces were not choreographed, but were the results of ongoing experimentation with motion and light.

The results are amazing. Fluid. Organic. Motion captured in a frozen moment, and stillness seeming to burst with unceasing energy. Bodies hang in mid-air, in mid-flight, solo or entwined or complementing each other in a synergy of arts ... a living sculpture caught in time.

It's hard to describe what Greenfield has seen through her lens. The dancers exhibit incredible feats of balance, emotion and passion for the dance. In some they're wearing tights and leotards, in others they're costumed as if for a show. In many they're not clothed at all, showing off their flexing muscles and rippling skin as they move through the dance. And the camera captured it all.

In one excellent example, dancer Denise Roberts is poised, sphinx-like, in the foreground as David Parsons hovers in mid-leap above her. In another, Daniel Ezralow capers with a satyr's abandon, seeming to contradict his own chaotic nature by providing perfect balance to Ashley Roland and Jamey Hampton. Elsewhere, Roland does an intricate veil dance. And Ezralow uses the infant Adee as a counterweight.

An entire section, titled "Fission/Fusion," puts the dancers through a wild array of acrobatic contortions. In the "Solo" section, Maureen Fleming twists herself into dizzying designs, Jeanette Stoner becomes a dervish, Desmond Richardson leaps with far-reaching grace, and Parsons is halted in free-fall. In the final section, "Breaking Bounds," Greenfield has gotten a little trickier with darkroom techniques, adding shapes and reflections. The other four chapters are all straightforward shots.

Art historian William A. Ewing provides the text, but there's not a lot of it. Ewing, who also arranged the photos for the book, wrote a brief introduction to Greenfield's work and prepared an interview with her as well. Although interesting to photographers, art students and anyone with a passion for detail, the words are simply a distraction to most readers who simply want to let themselves be captivated by the images.

And believe me, captivated you will be.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

Buy it from Amazon.com.