John Goodyear about " Still in Motion "

The words, ‘still in motion’ could be interpreted to mean what it says, something is still moving, or within photography it might well mean that a still has been made out of something that was, or is moving.  The second meaning then, copies how we would read the statement turned around, ‘motion in a still.’  All these readings carry a degree of incongruity that relates to the experience of seeing the photos in Berendina Buist’s current series of double portraits.   

How does one explain the differences offered in the two portraits?  The people and their clothing have not changed, but many other changes are given.  Some of these changes are obvious, others much less so. The first version has an ordinary quality.  The second version of each person is somewhat out of order, less neat, less prepared to meet the public.  There is a greater intensity in the glance; more vibrancy and self-awareness.

The philosopher Hegel (1770-1831) gave us a not entirely favorable description of the dawning modern sensibility, listing ‘inconsistency’, ‘ irony’ and ‘a divided self’ as the burgeoning characteristics.  In the Buist photos these traits can all be found in full flower.  The photographer’s approach to the figure is identical in the two shots, but something about the subject is inconsistent.  This change is madly ironic, as though the subject is trying to fool us. The photographer hasn’t done it.   There are no technical changes such as in the lighting, the ‘depth of field,’ the focus or in all those ‘photo shop’ methodologies which can edit an image and its context.

Are we looking at the divided-self here?  Hegel is not the first in suggesting that a person has an inner self and an outer, more public persona, but he sees the split widening in the approaching modern period.  The inner self had been often lost or highly degraded in conforming to a strong social morality, whereas Hegel felt the modernist favors private pursuits over public ones.  In Berendina Buists’ works the first image is orderly.   The second version of the subjects finds the figures more in touch with their personal mentality and physicality.  Rarely are we given such a decisive visual glimpse of these two aspects of our lives, the outer and inner self.

Obviously the photographer has found a mechanism for revealing this mysterious duplicity.  What makes the work fascinating is that we don’t know what the mechanism is.  Working on attempting to resolve it helps us know ourselves.  

John Goodyear,  Link to John Goodyear 's information

June 18 2013

............................................................................................................................................................More essays below 


Berendina Buist about " Still in Motion "

Every time I went to a Latin dance class at my local gym, I would come home exhilarated. It was addictive. I could not miss a class, I had to go. My friends would tell me that it was the endorphins, but to me it was pure joy. Then I started to wonder if I could photograph that feeling, or rather; I could feel the joy, but could I photograph it?  I asked my fellow dancers to participate in my project and a good number signed up.

Once the dance photographs were done, I continued to photograph my yoga class before and after practice. After yoga I also feel amazing, but it was a different sort of joy. Could I photograph that as well?

I wrote the following paragraph after finishing the Latin dance photographs.

'Finding small physical changes in a photograph of a person may take time, but once they are detected they will be significant. I photographed my subjects before and after an hour of intense physical exercise. Flushed faces, visible veins and some perspiration accompany shiny eyes. One can guess the movement that took place between one and the other image but a photograph is a still and freezes the motion so that we may indulge in studying what is there to see.

The photographs have a similar look to a photograph one will use for identification purposes, such as a passport photograph or a mug shot. There is the individual against a white background. The lighting is flat so as not to create shadows in the face. It is stripped from all external distractions. I made that choice so that the viewer will engage with the person in the image and have not many other things to look at but the changes in the body. Those changes speak of the internal process of pumping the blood around the body.

I invite the viewer to look closely and feel his or her own blood pumping through the body at the same time. Nothing comes closer to feeling alive, than becoming aware of your heart beating.'

 A participant in "Still in Motion" writes about the joy she feels when working out to a Latin dance beat.

by KM, September 2012

 "Zumba is to me that moment in the movie the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy steps onto the yellow brick road and the world turns from black & white to vivid color.  Can you remember that feeling when the screen was suddenly, miraculously full of color?  That’s what Zumba looks like.  Technicolor.  One of my favorite Zumba warm up song starts: “Move your body, out on the floor, put your troubles aside, and start living…”  I love that line!  That’s what Zumba is to me, an hour that I can put everything aside and turn off my troubles.  That’s what Zumba feels like, a point where I can begin again, to “start living,” and in color.

 A few short/long years ago my daughter sat at the kitchen table watching me lying on the couch one late afternoon and said to me “Gee Mom, you really do sleep a lot.”   Yes.  All I wanted to do was curl into a ball and lay on my couch in the fetal position.  Getting up off that couch was near impossible.  I was tired.  See, my son has autism.  It’s heavy.  It’s demanding.  I was achingly exhausted by the time the end of day rolled around at 9, 10 at night, and then I had to get up the next day at 6 in the morning, put one foot in front of the other, and do it all over again.  I was tired: physically, spiritually and emotionally; after a decade of dealing with the demands of autism on top of three kids and a full time job, there were many days all I wanted was to curl up on my couch permanently.  Later that year, my dear daughter had suggested that she give me Zumba classes as a gift and we could go together, but at the time we never got around to it…

And my husband had been encouraging me to join a gym but how was I going to get to a gym when I was already exhausted by 5 PM?  Well I forced myself last January 2011 to finally join a gym. I vowed to try to go just two nights a week, hopefully more.  I wasn’t in great shape and I knew that it was long overdue.  I looked at the equipment and was uninspired.  I decided to check out all the classes.  I tried spinning which only made my butt bones sore, nearly passed out in my first “wellness” yoga class, and wandered into a Zumba class.  Well I took that first Zumba class and I was hooked.  Even though after the first ten minutes I was gasping for air and watching the clock, but the music kept me going song by song.  I thought the instructor was on crack.  I hid in the very back corner and tried my best to follow her frenetic routines.  I thought I’d die.  But the music got me and the energy in the room was infectious.  It was remarkable to me that the class was packed with people of all ages and sizes having a blast.  And in fact, I noted that the ladies with some curves could really move and could move better than the “stick figures.” 

 So I kept coming back.  I kept watching the clock and gasping & dying, but the music and the energy kept me coming back.  I’d laugh at myself trying to follow the routines.  I’d imagine how ridiculous I looked trying these crazy dance moves and I’d crack up.  Hey Shakira, “these hips don’t lie either and they aint movin like that,” I’d laugh to myself.  It might not be pretty, but what the heck: I was dancing and sweating, and I was laughing.  For the first time, I understood the advice to find the work out that you really love, then you’d want to go and you’d look forward to it instead of looking for excuses to get out of it.  I was looking forward to my evening Zumba “party.”  No matter how much stress I had or how tired I was, I knew the music would move me, the energy of the instructor and the class would carry me and I’d feel better.  My brain and body were both so fully engaged during class to follow the ever changing routines, that I couldn’t even worry if I wanted to (except maybe to worry about tripping myself).

 So a year and a half later today, I’m still dancing in my Zumba classes as many as I can each week.  And now my hips now do move like that; watch out Shakira!  I still get discouraged and frazzled with my life stresses at times, but I know Zumba will help me to escape even if for just an hour.  I still get down sometimes, but Zumba will bring me a brief respite and an outlet to de-stress.  The brain and the body engage and the music and the dancing conspire to flood my beleaguered brain with much needed endorphins.   I’m now a “zumbaddict!”  Zumba brings me one Technicolor hour where I move my body out on the floor, “put all my troubles aside, and start living.”