Metamorphosis has brought along its own in house photographer that will be in Shanghai for the next few weeks. He is taking video footage and photographing the rehearsal process as well as photoshoots with individual dancers all around the city. Johnatan Molina Arroyo was born in Mexico City and his grandmother (Tita Ortega) has her own classical ballet school. Here is his story and how he got into photography.
(Pictures by Lee Wai Leung)
I learned photography pretty young in Junior high, and my interest in it started because a friend began teaching me on his camera and later gave the camera to me as a gift. I began experimenting with dark room, doing prints with photo sensitive paper. So what you see in the photo is actually burnt paper, which gives an aggressive quality.
I also had a good teacher at school who really pushed us to make very weird things. Thats how I understood I could go further and not just document reality.
I’ve always thought of myself as a painter and when I see myself in the future its also in that way. When I entered the contemporary art scene I found that sculpture has more possibilities though. I’m a collector of objects. They have power, a volume, and many faces. With sculpture the materials you can use are endless. Its very challenging because when possibilities are infinite, its harder to make a decision.
The most challenging thing about shooting dancers is they move very fast so often a hand or foot is out of the frame. You don’t know what they are going to do next, so pretty unpredictable in that sense.
I’ve been working with Iratxe and Igor for three years on Metamorphosis. The first year was in Mexico (2015), and then San Sebastian (2016). I also designed the branding and website for Metamorphosis, and choose the colour palette with them. The beetle logo comes directly from Kafka’s book, Metamorphosis. We are taking the inverse of how Kafka thought of the transformation, rather going from human to beetle our concept is going from beetle to human and beyond. The beetle is designed as an origami insect; going from a flat sheet of paper into a creature.
I have been watching dance my whole life because of my grandmother’s school. I have an affinity with it. The personality of a movement and body language can tell you a lot about a specific person. When I started shooting regular models they weren't interesting enough for me. But when I got involved with dance photography I saw new things in the dancers, they become different things, an animal or a mythological creature, anything is possible through dance.
Dance artists have a lot of passion and the camera can read that. Dancers are burning inside and this eagerness is great for a photographer.
I’m very exited to collaborate with Igor and Iratxe because I really admire them both, they are very strong and hard working artist, very conceptual which I love.
I enjoy traveling, so for me having the opportunity not just to work with them but also travel and see the world is a priceless experience they have given me and I'm grateful for that. Metamorphosis is a unique experience that can change your life!