The collaboration between a photographer and a contemporary dancer is creative and challenging. Capturing movement at the perfect moment takes time, patience and skill, which is evident in Enigma, a new exhibition by local photographer Lorna Sim, opening 19 May at The Photography Room.
Enigma presents the form and free spirit of Eliza Sanders, a young contemporary, award-winning and independent dancer, choreographer and visual artist who dances wherever the wind takes her. When Eliza’s in Canberra, she’s often found in front of Lorna’s camera. Lorna has been shooting Canberra’s youth dance group, the Quantum Leap Youth Dance Ensemble (QL2), since 2009, including alumni members such as Eliza.
During Enigma, Eliza’s dance was spontaneous, fleeting and emotional. Lorna’s challenge was to capture the moves at the right moment. “When she dances, Eliza is unconstrained by norms and is fearless in her approach,” says Lorna. “The excitement is the anticipation of what she’s going to do as her body moves and capturing that in a still frame. The challenge is that I never know what’s going to happen from one quick moment to the next.”
During the shoot, Lorna experimented with a new flash working hard to predict what Eliza’s peak moments would be and then catching them as a still frame. “Eliza’s dance can’t be totally predicted or controlled, and she’s fast,” says Lorna. “The new flash gave me more flexibility but it still took ages to capture the elusive beauty of Eliza’s movements.” The images in Enigma are unedited, making them all the more captivating.
Eliza holds a Bachelor of Dance Performance from the New Zealand School of Dance. She began dancing at the age of five in Canberra, where she was born and raised. She has trained in classical ballet, jazz and contemporary dance.
Lorna creates art, marketing and documentary photos for performing artists. She regularly works with the Street Theatre, Photoaccess and QL2 Dance and has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions here and interstate. Lorna has dedicated Enigma to all artists whose practice and survival is increasingly precarious. “This is a tribute to the courage these artists exhibit among all the challenges they face,” says Lorna.
Also showing at the same time as Enigma is What Comes to Mind by Dörte Conroy, who has created small-scale, transitory sculptures and then turned them into permanent photographs. With the right light, Dörte’s images feature dramatic shadows. Absence of Sunshine, by Maurice Weidmann, is a series of black and white photographic prints that The Photography Room’s Director, Sean Davey, stumbled across at an op-shop in Yass. Sean bought 12 of the photographs, which depict theatre productions from Canberra in the 1980s.
These three exhibitions run from 19 May to 25 June at The Photography Room, an artist-run gallery that specialises in photography. It’s open every Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is free.