InfraMen, by Nir Arieli
Nir Arieli – InfraMen
exhibition at Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery
Jan 16th to March 8th
“Inframen” a beautiful series of infrared portraits by American photographer Nir Arieli, based in New York. Nir Arieli photographed contemporary dancers, taking them out of their roles as performers, and using infrared to bring out details, scars, marks, as a way to reveal the constraints that their body are facing.
“To be a dancer is to work your body to the breaking point. In my project, the infrared technique that reveals the blemishes that lie under the dancer’s abused skin, like scars, stretch marks, sun damage, etc.
It’s interesting to use this technique on dancers because they tend to look “perfect” to the naked eye. They are in their early twenties, their bodies are shaped.
I use this infrared technique to challenge the model’s beauty and find a greater intimacy. You are seeing what is already there but it reveals and emphasizes these marks.
Like a form of voyeurism, this photographic process strips away the dancer’s outer shell, exposing hidden flaws. In Inframen, the surface of the skin becomes a metaphor for the dancer’s interiority.
The dancers, with their callused exteriors 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.
I don’t dance at all. Not even at a party. I can’t do it and I find everything about it fascinating. I look at it like a child. I have a lot of appreciation for the kinds of artists they are.
Their physicality is intelligent and sophisticated. When we collaborate, they are always able to contribute something of their own to the process.
In my last project, Tension, I was interested in movement. For Inframen, I wanted to do something more personal for the dancers. This technology allowed me to look under their skin and that felt very personal to all involved.
The way that I work with models is not by talking a lot. I trust in intimacy. The process is technical, quiet and gentle. We photographed in weird places. Most of these are not studio shots. I was surprised it worked at all.”
“Inframen” is a photography project centred on male dancers, a subset of the population that eschews gender norms in favour of art and passion. Turning their bodies into vehicles for graceful and delicate movements, Arieli’s subjects create an alternate, and devastatingly beautiful, portrait of masculinity. For his black-and-white series, Arieli uses an infrared photography technique that brings out the hidden marks left behind on dancers’ skin. Blemishes, scars and stretch marks come to the body’s surface, serving as a symbol for interiority reaching out.
Through “Inframen,” the viewer becomes a sort of voyeur, gaining access to the underbelly of a dancer’s experience — something that normally remains hidden beneath layers of flesh. “The dancers, with their calloused exterior and sensitive character, represent the tenuous relationship between the strength of the body and the fragility of the soul,” Arieli explains in his artist statement.
The correlation between beauty and bruises aligns the craft of dance with the pain of emotional strife.
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