Isabel Muñoz. SHAOLIN DANCING WARRIORS
Our Price: $17.00
Publisher: International Publishing House for China’s Culture (2012)
Category: Exhibition catalogue
Details: Softcover, flaps, 32 black & white plates, 90 pages, 209 x 141 mm
Languages: English, French & simplified Chinese
In 1998 the Spanish photographer Isabel Muñoz (b.1951) visited the famous Shaolin Temple on Mount Song in Henan province. Her extraordinary series of black and white photographs, ‘Shaolin Dancing Warriors, exhibited in 2012 at Beaugeste Photo Gallery in Shanghai and contained in this exhibition catalogue, are a record of that experience and her encounter with this Buddhist martial arts tradition, which reaches back to the fifth century, when the monastery was founded.
The works in this series follow Muñoz’s primary preoccupation with the potential of movement, most often expressed in dance and ritual, to reveal cultural identity. In so doing, her works largely eschew background decoration and focus exclusively on the monks’ techniques; flying kicks, jumps and body postures. In some cases the images comprise only an extended arm, a clenched fist or a raised finger. Yet even with such minimal information the viewer is made forcefully aware of the sense of controlled energy and concentration. Further, this narrowness of focus enforces the impression of the photographer searching her subjects for clues to the cultural memory that has provided inspiration and continuity for the sect for almost two millennia.
Shaolin Dancing Warriors includes an introductory article by Jean Loh, director of Beaugeste Photo Gallery, and a foreword by the author and curator Christian Caujolle, founder of the Agence VU, in Paris.
Muñoz began taking photographs in her late teens. After studying in Madrid and New York she has spent the past 20 years travelling the world photographing different communities and dance companies to explore the connection between local dance and ancestral ritual. Muñoz develops each of her prints by hand using a platinum print technique, which provides her images with the widest possible tonal range.