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Resonating Fields
Lois Greenfield

September 15 - December 10, 2006

Opening Events: September 16, 6:00-8:00pm
Exhibition Preview Reception to meet Lois Greenfield at 6:00pm (Museum Galleries)
Special Presentation by Lois Greenfield at 7:00pm (JM Goddard Theater, DBCC Daytona Campus)

Exhibition Event: October 18, 6:00-8:00pm
Preview Reception to meet Martha Ullman West at 6:00pm (Museum Galleries)
Dance and Photography - A History by Martha Ullman West (Blg 110, Rm 112, DBCC Daytona Campus)

Lois Greenfield's Resonating Fields Exhibition

“For Lois, the important quality of her images was that they revealed what the naked eye could not see…slices of time beneath the threshold of perception; movement that is the materialization of time itself.”

—Henry Jesionka


In her exuberant, explosive and elegant pictures, Lois Greenfield captures in an image, not just the lithe and acrobatic forms of dancers performing their art, but the purity and exhilaration of movement itself.  Dancers in Ms. Greenfield’s breathtaking images seem like a species apart; rare and wonderful creatures who have figured out how to break the bonds that hold the rest of us to earth. Without tricks or manipulation of any kind, she captures these fleeting and impossible moments in a style that is both lyrical and graphic.

This exhibition brings together a definitive collection of her pioneering work in dance photography and encompasses incomparable images of the beauty and strength of the human body. Greenfield's work inspires us to re-evaluate how we see the world, and movement. Her unique approach to translating live movements and capturing the human form in motion has radically redefined the genre, reinvented the aesthetics of dance photography and influenced a generation of photographers.

Lois has created signature images for virtually all of the major contemporary dance companies. Collaborating with some of the world's finest dancers from such illustrious dance companies as the Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Sydney Dance Company, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor and the San Francisco Ballet to the younger generation’s Twyla Tharp, Bill.T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Pilobolus and the Parsons Dance Company, Lois Greenfield captures moments of startling grace and power.

William Ewing, who has written extensively about Greenfield’s photography for both of her monographs has interpreted the power of her work in terms of the tensions created between opposing forces: gravity and weightlessness, attraction and repulsion, serenity and strain, balance and imbalance, freedom and constraint, figuration and abstraction, order and chaos. Ewing further commented that Greenfield not only frees the dancer from the dance, but from the constraints of time and space as well, and even in a sense from their own bodies. Greenfield’s work has been compared with Eadweard Muybridge’s landmark explorations of human locomotion and there are strong correspondences with the “Decisive Moment” of Henri Cartier-Bresson. But there is a paradox inherent in Greenfield’s work; these photographs depict actual occurrences in the world yet simultaneously they challenge credulity with what we see depicted within them. Greenfield’s images are more fully the product of her imagination and, as such, have much in common with the imaginative work of the Surrealists.

Lois Greenfield's Resonating Fields Exhibition   For this exhibition the images are collected into “galleries” that move beyond any one fixed single image or instantaneous moment. Each gallery series becomes a resonant field of forms and figures, phrases, themes, rhymes and configurations with sections and movements intended to form shifting structures of concept and design. Within each series there are changes of scale, placement in sequence and configuration to create dynamic and very “musical” forms. The metaphoric potential generated for the viewer by each series is also inflected by the gallery title.

“Lois Greenfield is known for her breathtaking photographs of dancers doing seemingly impossible feats. “Wow!” and “How?” is the viewers’ first response as they try to unravel the mystery unfolding before them. There is no ‘solution’ to the photographs, they are meant to present the impossible, frame contradictions and find the coherence within chaos.

Greenfield’s photographs are startlingly simple in their technique; devoid of digital manipulation of any kind. What seems surreal is actually a document. What appears to be an illusion is just a slice of real time. Her signature threshold for freezing movement is 1/2000 second. That fixed interval purports to be an objective slice of time. But time can be suspended. It is in fact a HUGE BOUNDARY into an event/space where time becomes subjective and elastic.

Working with her images over the last six years, my "readings” of them have shifted. I argued that Time was her real subject. She was both configuring time's passage and refuting its existence. For Lois, the important quality of her images was that they revealed what the naked eye could not see…slices of time beneath the threshold of perception; movement that is the materialization of time itself. In a sense, she is not a dance photographer at all, but an image-maker obsessed with the human body in motion.

The ‘meaning and energy’ of any one picture seems to bleed outside of her trademark black border and is enlivened and deepened through juxtaposition; in the same way that notes in music function to create a complex structure of phrases, sections and movements.” –Henry Jesionka
  Lois Greenfield's Resonating Fields Exhibition


Lois Greenfield started as a photojournalist in Boston in 1970. While covering the usual range of subjects, she got her first dance assignment. When she moved to New York City in 1973, she started specializing in dance photography and for twenty years she covered the experimental dance scene for the Village Voice.  Early on she was drawn to the graphic potential of dance and in 1982, she decided to open a studio where she could not only control the lighting, but could also direct the dancers in her exploration of movement’s expressive potential. About her early work, Lois has said “People would look at one of my pictures of Baryshnikov in a spectacular leap ten feet off the ground and say, ‘What a great photograph!’ but I knew it wasn’t; it was merely a great dance moment competently captured. So I decided to be more exploratory."

Two ground-breaking monographs of Greenfield's work have been published by Chronicle Books in the United States, and by Thames and Hudson in Europe. They are: Breaking Bounds (1992) and Airborne (1998). Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and published in virtually every major magazine including Sports Illustrated, Time, Elle, Vogue, Life, and The New York Times Magazine. Commercial clients have adapted the metaphoric potential of her unique vision. Her commercial clients include Raymond Weil, Pepsi, DuPont, Cutty Sark, Disney, IBM and Capezio. Lois maintains a dynamic and busy commercial practice from her New York studio.

The newest venture for Lois Greenfield has taken her career full circle. Collaborating and performing around the world with the Australian Dance Theater in "Held" a dance inspired by her photography, Lois shoots the live dance action as an integral part of the performance.

Lois Greenfield's Resonating Fields Exhibition Lois Greenfield's Resonating Fields Exhibition Lois Greenfield's Resonating Fields Exhibition

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Exhibitions and programs at the Southeast Museum of Photography are supported in part by Daytona State College, Volusia ECHO and the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on the Arts.

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