Tiny Dancers

February 11, 2009

This week, alumnus Rachel Papo (MFA 2006 Photography, Video and Related Media) is opening a new exhibition called “Desperately Perfect” at the ClampArt gallery, 521 – 531 West 25th Street. The show features a series of photographs taken in a Russian ballet school, focusing on the enormous demands placed upon the young dancers. This new work follows “Serial No. 3817131,” her SVA thesis project which similarly looked at the high-pressure experience of women in the Israeli military. “Serial No. 3817131” is being shown in conjunction with “Desperately Perfect” at ClampArt, February 12 – March 14; there will be an opening reception on Thursday, February 12, 6 – 8pm.

Papo recently spoke to the Briefs about the show and being represented by ClampArt:

What is “Desperately Perfect” about?
I’m trying to show what goes on behind the scenes of the ‘perfect ballerina’ image. Behind the perfect line of dancers there are individuals who are struggling to stand out, but they’re told to be the same and be part of a group. It’s similar to the soldier project, in that it’s showing an individual within a regimented environment, showing the individual instead of only the big picture. These are two places I’ve been – the military and a dance school. It’s like a self-portrait, showing how I felt when I was a part of it.

What is important for you in the artist/gallery relationship?
Like Obama says, transparency is important…and also respect. The gallery should respect the artist, and the artist should realize the sacrifices the gallery is making. Neither side should assume they’re doing all the work.

Images: Rachel Papo, (top) Three 2nd Class Girls Backstage, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2007, courtesy of ClampArt, New York; (bottom) Yana and Yulia Backstage, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2007 (#30), courtesy of ClampArt, New York.

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