Peggy Jarrell Kaplan
Portraits of Choreographers: Body into Face (1985-2012)
October 4-9th Haliç Congress Center
October 13-18th garajistanbul
In the first photography exhibition ever presented at iDANS, the renowned photographer Peggy Jarrell Kaplan, who is also the resident photographer at iDANS 06, takes us into an analogue journey in contemporary dance through the ‘faces’ of its creators. You will notice that Portraits of Choreographers: Body into Face is also a journey to our memories along the route of iDANS Festivals.
Peggy Jarrell Kaplan has been photographing visual artists as well as performing artists who explore new forms of dance for more than four decades. Her portrait subjects include epoch-making artists like Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Andy Warhol, Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. The portraits in this selection highlight the range of artists of iDANS programs.
Recent exhibitions include Time Lines at the CODA Festival in Oslo; Balkan Dreaming at the Balkan Dance Platform in Ljubljana; Dance Expression in conjunction with the Dublin Dance Festival; and Summer Session: New York-Based Women Choreographers, at CPR – Center for Performance Research in Brooklyn.
Previous exhibitions include Kaplan’s collection of Japanese subjects, Japanese Mood, at the Nippon Gallery in New York in 2009. Her portraits were exhibited in conjunction with Tanz im August in Berlin and at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 2007. Her portraits of Dance Icons and Pina Bausch and her Dancers were exhibited at Sadler’s Wells Theater in London throughout the 2005-06 season. In 2004, her portraits were selected by Pina Bausch to be included in her dance festival in Düsseldorf, Germany at Tanzhaus NRW. In 2002, she exhibited portraits of international choreographers at La Maison des Arts in Créteil, France.
Kaplan’s portraits of choreographers have also been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, Riverside Studios in London, the Dance Museum in Stockholm, and the Lincoln Center Library and Museum of the Performing Arts in New York. She has exhibited in conjunction with dance and theater festivals in Amsterdam, Montpellier, Glasgow, Salzburg, Montreal, Aruba, Lisbon, and Stockholm.
Associated with the Brooklyn Academy of Music since the inception of The Next Wave Festival, Kaplan was the catalogue portrait photographer and exhibited at the Ronald Feldman Gallery in conjunction with its Tenth Anniversary celebration. She was commissioned by the Theater Instituut Nederland to photograph Dutch choreographers for the Festival de Nouvelle Danse in Montreal in 1995. In addition to exhibiting her work in Volgograd, Russia, she also curated an exhibition of historical dance photography for their festival in 1997.
A catalogue of her work, Portraits of Choreographers, was published by Editions Bougé (Paris) and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York) in 1988 and her work is in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
I am looking across a double page of photographs by Peggy Jarrell Kaplan in a French magazine. From the portraits of Steve Paxton and Merce Cunningham, to those of Mark Morris, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Reinhild Hoffman, a similar calm pervades the image; a striking passiveness –a lucid stillness emanating from the faces of these choreographers and dancers.
Dance, in the particular manner that the twentieth century choreographers with the exception of the academic explore it, is above all –the art of taming time. In a society which loves and produces speed, dance aspires to a different sense of time: time suspended, time of art work, the time of process. As Merce Cunningham and John Cage are inspired by Zen philosophy, most of the choreographers exude, on this chaotic planet, a singular wisdom. Able to give meaning to movement, even if abstract; searching for what the body is capable of, yet refusing to settle for mere physical exploit; to inscribe an art that is by its nature ephemeral in an era when the consumption of visual images is accelerating –these are the three principles at the foundation of the “art of taming time”.
At the death of Hideyuki Yano, an influential Japanese choreographer who had lived in France, Daniel Dobbels recollected one of his favorite exercises:
To move and speak with one’s face hidden behind a dark and very thin veil without allowing one’s breath or movement to disturb the neutrality and stillness of the cloth.
In looking at the portraits of choreographers by Peggy Jarrell Kaplan, one can feel that same quality of barely touching.
“Physiognomies and presences fascinate portraitists who are curious about revelations made by the morphology as well as the surfacing inner agitation from both the gaze and gesture.” What concerns Peggy Jarrell Kaplan could also be named the “inspiration of the choreographer”.
Diane Arbus said “A photographer is a secret about a secret.” This secret can have something terrifying in it. In The Language of Dance, Mary Wigman confessed that the first inspiration for her famous “Dance of the Sorceress” was when she was surprised by the sight of her haggard and disheveled face in the mirror one morning. It is not certain that Peggy Jarrell Kaplan would be able to bee that mirror. She does not put cruelty into her portraits. Instead one notices the spirituality that resides within them.
Most of her portraits are not encumbered with environmental or biographical information. Peggy Jarrell Kaplan is not interested in the anecdotal. With discretion and tenacity, she shows her affection for the choreographers whom she meets for the duration of the face á face. There also it is necessary to learn how to tame time. She succeeds in realizing the mysterious and profound seduction of a portrait. In the reciprocal touch of the face and the image, the passion of the portrait meets the passion of the choreographers.
Foreword to the publication Portraits of Choreographers – Peggy Jarrell Kaplan
by Jean-Marc Adolphe
1988. Editions Bougé (Paris) and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York)
 Daniel Dobbels, “Night has fallen for Yano Hideyuki,” Liberation, March 15, 1988.
 Pierre Borhan, Clichés, June 1986.