Luis Alberto Rodriguez uses the body as a vehicle for communication. As a professional dancer of 15 years, Luis’s photography is filled with poetic shapes and contorted bodies. “I’ve been observing the human form for as long as I can remember," he explains. “Questioning how gravity affects the bones inside our skin, how nothing is ever static, how no gesture is ever neutral”. The photographer highlights, in an almost animalistic manner, how movement is a signifier of meaning. “The endless possibilities of expression is a lifelong quest of mine”, he explains, and the images reveal their emotion through the various twists of limbs. Sometimes we witness pain, with arms lifted to the sky, other times a leg suggests confusion, fear or intense jubilation.
As his photography honours the beauty of dance, each informs the other and Luis captures his feelings through the lens. “Through vivid dreams, I tend to get far-fetched ideas that I then attempt to recreate”, he tells us. “So much depends on who is my subject — if it is a dancer, we speak the same language. When the person is not, their response to my directions goes completely away from my original idea, surpassing my expectations”.
Luis also uses clothes as a form of language, mixing materials such as plastic, paper and cloths to create unique costumes that speak true to his ideas. “I see clothes and the body as interdependent”, he explains. “Each can aid each other in bringing a new iteration or understanding of itself”. The photographs depict startling, vibrant outfits, using bold block colours or engaging patterns. Faces are often covered by material so that the only way we can understand the narrative is through form and shape. As an artist, Luis doesn’t “work well in a vacuum”; he has a strong and talented team to assist him. Names such as Rachel Tess, Marquet Lee, Mac Folkes, Robert Escaper and Peter Lux have helped bring his imagination to life.
His latest series Spectacular Home is an “ongoing body of work created in [his] ancestral country the Dominican Republic”. It “reflects on the nature of identity while revisiting cultural signifiers in search of corporal emancipation”, he explains. Due to the effects of colonialism, many Dominicans do not identify with the colour of their skin. Women straighten and burn their hair to escape their identity, uncomfortable in a body that has been oppressed. This series will “rewrite the Dominican’s understanding of their history”, Luis explains. “It will become an archive of celebration, a reclamation of existence”.