(This is a guest blog by Eric E. Sung. See the end of the post for more information about him.)
On the 16th of March, I had a delightful opportunity to attend a truly remarkable performance coordinated by several professional artists widely ranging from photography, choreography, music composition, dance, custom design, and stage lighting, titled ‘Orchis’ and I wish to share a few words on my thoughts. As part of the program, there were three pieces all choreographed by internationally recognized choreographer, Viktor Plotnikov; Surrender, Sharps and Flats, and Orchis. I was stunned by all of them but Orchis was exceptionally breathtaking.
The choreography was inspired by “Dance of the Orchids”, series of photographs made by Cemal Ekin. These images consist of photographs made from dry blossoms. Rather than documenting the dry orchids as a product of decay and death of living form, Ekin depicted them to celebrate a new sense of energy as well as a new form of life by delicately composing the subject and highlighting the powerful earthy movement. Saturation and Hue of these images were minimized which encourage the viewers’ attention to be drawn to the lines and forms of dance like movement. Instead of the dry orchids being portrayed as them reaching the end of their being, the images suggest and celebrate the new beginning of their form.
Throughout the performance, I appreciated the intention of all artists involved to create this piece as an inter-merged one rather than all separate parts being their own islands. As I was enjoying the performance, I found myself not to pay attention to any single component more than the other. On stage, the images were projected on a large screen in the center. It was elevated and slightly tilted towards the ground. There were very subtle movement and transition between frames, which showed the images as if it took the role of one of the dancers. Formally, movement of dancers celebrated the aesthetic of the orchid images and stage lighting, as well as the music, continued to balance the whole piece. Also, I noticed and appreciated the costume design. The tone of costumes was organic and earth like so the intention of the design could be noticed without losing the overall harmony.
When the performance was in session, there was more than a handful of people from the audience who either whispered or spoke loudly even, sharing how they found the piece impressive by saying ‘It is so beautiful!’ or ‘Wow, look at that!’. I don’t believe that these people meant to be rude or had a lack of manners. They simply were responding to this piece and their own experience. We often discuss ‘diversity’ and how important it is, especially in contemporary living. I would like to encourage artists to invite and practice the notion of diversity by working and creating artworks by partnering with artists from other areas. I would like to congratulate Cemal Ekin, Viktor Plotnikov, Sonya Belousova, Toots Zynsky, Elizabeth Bentley, Alan Pickart, all of the dancers, and all people involved making this performance possible. Also, I would like to see all of them on stage at the end of the performance for each and every one of them to be recognized for their participation making such a beautiful piece, which created long-lasting impact for the audience. It certainly did for me and I look forward to seeing this piece again as well as new collaboration program in the coming years.
Eric E. Sung
Eric E. Sung is a recognized photographer/artist who works and lives in Providence Area, RI. Sung’s work has been exhibited in both national and international exhibitions including New York, New Jersey, Texas, China, and Korea. In the past, he collaborated with more than 40 classical musicians, and opera singers, and composers for various live performances. Beyond partnering with artists, he co-lead a wide range of projects with scholars from Political Science, Marketing, Global Studies, Art History, and Non-Profit Organizations. Sung is a long time member and a Portfolio Reviewer at Society for Photographic Education National Conference. Sung currently teaches at Providence College as an Associate Professor of Photography.