Nilsson, Morten

Morten Nilsson, Copenhagen, Denmark


Dancers by Morten Nilsson (Copenhagen, 1967), Danish artist trained as a photojournalist, is a series of portraits of ballroom dancers.

That at which the artist looks is a separate world, with its own specific rules and rituals. The attention is immediately caught by the stiffness of the poses, by the stance of the dancers, and by their clothes style. And just these are the aspects the artist wants to emphasize, choosing as subjects of his photos dancers who are mostly teenagers. The laces, the spangle embroideries, the damask shirts, the hairstyles and the makeup, that turns their faces into those of dummies or wax mannequins, go along with their fixed poses, partly typical of these dances movements, partly expressly required by the artist to heighten the artificiality of the roles that this world imposes.

The beauty and perfection aesthetics clashes with the imperfect image of the teenager becoming an adult and absurdly pretending to be already one. The portraits don't try to let come out the subjects' personality, but they just critically enhance their impersonality through careful stylistic choices, like for example the use of the light of a ring flash that does not produce shadows and does create an even more artificial atmosphere. The backgrounds are mostly accidental, but essential as details and reveal that the photos have not been taken in a studio: the dancers have been actually photographed in various places when the competition is just over and they leave the dance floor sweating and short of breath, but yet identified with the rigidity of their role.

However, these immobile masks are here and there cracked and let come out from the perfect, almost lifeless and inhuman, surface the imperfection of an immature body, the disorientation of a state of mind that has nothing to do with the aesthetic ideal this world aspires to. Chiara Sartori