The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Jennifer Tarrazi-Scully


“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee

The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery

Film Society of Lincoln Center

Beginning 1.31.15

There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”


Travis Magee’s photographs do just that, capturing a gasp in a bottle. He illustrates and arrests these virtuosic and delicate moments in his work with such elegance. Magee, being from the dance world himself, having danced with Lucinda Childs and Mark Morris, approaches his work like any good choreographer would, from having a company of trusted Dance Artists, to composing the movement with a crafted senseIMG_1925 of and integrating a developed manipulation of time, space and design. Then… all the academic crafting of the projects seem to be thrown up in the air in order create extraordinary and ethereal photographs.

In his words he is ” …creating the work I want to see.” and I am right there with him.

Magee cannot be pigeon holed into any category, but his genre, or the medium he photographs in, just happens to be dance. His artistic sensibility is versatile and can be translated into fashion, print and most importantly high art. It’s also important to know his pictures are not to be construed as advertisements for future live work, they will not someday be films or YouTube videos, they are what they are… perfect moments captured on a single photographic frame.

I have fallen in love with the visionary work of the extraordinary photographer, Travis Magee. I will not hide behind mysterious words and have you guess where my heart lies. I think Travis has honed his craft into something spectacular. His work is fresh and presented in a way that I have always wanted, even if I didn’t know I wanted it.

Three years ago, I found Magee. It was a time where I lost my cultural footing and really lived in a Facebook art experience. His work was focused on movement, capturing those wild moments I have already described. He would take pictures in various settings, controlled and natural, but the living subjects seemed to be the unpredictable element in the composition always. In mid-movement sentence, but the abstract lexicon always seems to come together with a poetic sensibility. Today Magee is incorporating a vibrant stillness in his work, but it isn’t a hushed quite, it’s a quiet that vibrates with history and an intense connectedness to its surrounding and between the performers themselves.

“First Breath”, a collection of larger than life photographs by Travis Magee, will open at Lincoln Center on January 31st. The show depicts images of men and woman emerging from vast sand masses, in intimate embraces as though the wind is uncovering fossils from the last millennia. He plays with ideas of transformation from past to present, pre-civilized to modern, pre-human to modern man. Emersion from a primordial muck to flight.

Magee works with the elements more than I have ever seen before, from the gentle uncovering of naked figures in the sand to a heavy pull out of water, where my mind inserts suction sounds as though I am hearing the dancer laboriously emerging from the liquid like the first walking fish. Finally, images of humans shedding their outer layers, earthly attachments, and taking flight.

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