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Christmas 2011(Photo by Alison Harbaugh)

ON ASSIGNMENT: Photo

My ongoing work with the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at UMD proves to continue to WOW me. I was asked to photograph an outdoor performance last week called “Caravan”. “Caravan” is the creation of artists in residence Eiko and Koma, who continue to inspire and entertain their audiences with their unique modern dance performances.

I had no clue what to expect, but I knew I had rooftop access for an overhead shot of the scene, that the performers would be arriving in a car pulling a trailer of sorts and that they would park that in the center of the lawn and be inside the trailer to begin their performance.  I was intrigued by this idea of a trailer acting as a stage of sorts.

So I began the shoot on the rooftop of the building overlooking the performance space. The night was perfect, cool, breezy and the sun setting, I embraced my quiet time on the roof as I waited for the arrival of the caravan. As it slowly made it’s way around the traffic circle and onto the lawn you could see the audience that had gathered getting out their cell phones to snap a few shots themselves of this odd looking trailer with doors opened on four side and housing a nest like material with red lights accenting the interior. It looked like a cocoon of sorts.

Once I got my shots from the rooftop, I made my way down to the earth to join the rest of the audience sprawled in the lawn. The performance that continued to unfold in front of me was confusing, beautiful and different than anything I had ever seen. Eiko and Komo were covered in a white plaster-like substance that made them look like statues that had come to life.

I’m not quite sure the story that they were telling-maybe there wasn’t one. I tend to lose the story in pieces that I am photographing because I am so focused on the visual only-making sure I get the light just right, the angle how I want it, and the expressions at their height. I made my own story up as it went along, I saw two people who had just risen out of the ash and were barely surviving as they helped each other along in desperate moments. That’s the beauty of these performances that I have been photographing, everyone can interpret it differently and no one is ever wrong. Art is the common theme running through and we are all there to be inspired through the different mediums. Thank you once again for CSPAC for that.

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