Marton Perlaki explores public space and boundaries through photographing 1950s dance, the twist
- Jyni Ong
- 12 February 2019
London-based photographer Marton Perlaki has an impressive record of accolades under his belt. Originally from Budapest, Marton was shortlisted for the Paul Huff Award, nominated for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize, and was one of Foam’s New Talent’s, all in the same year of 2015. With clients stretching from the editorial gems of Time Magazine, Vogue and AnOther, the photographer has also documented many fashion campaigns for the likes of Dior, Helmut Lang and Adidas.
Most recently, Marton has collaborated with the stylist Danielle Van Camp to create a series about personal space for Revue magazine. They began the project by discussing different ways of exploring the idea, “we talked about public spaces and boundaries”, Marton tells It’s Nice That, “then, I proposed the idea of dancing as an extension of this idea.” In dance, personal space is either imposed through certain rules that dictate the movement, or, totally disregarded because everyone is having too much of a good time.
With help from movement director Ryan Chappell, “who helped a great deal in realising the shoot”, the photographer resultantly captured a series seeped in nostalgia through its black and white print run and vintage backdrop. The shoot embodies the energy of a Northern Soul dancehall, and a high fashion editorial campaign. And this matches Marton’s intention for the shoot “to show fashion garments for a niche audience in the most creative and playful way.”
Marton adds, “I’ve wanted to do a series on the twist dance for a while and this seemed like a good opportunity to use it as a launch for the series”. The twist was popularised during the rise of rock and roll music in late fifties America, but originates from a Congolese pelvic dance movement that came over to America during the time of slavery. Its action revolves around rotating the balls of the feet, and in the shoot for Revue, Marton’s shots accentuate the languid movement of the dance through craftily well-timed shots. The dancers’ long limbs are also lengthened through the high contrasting hues of monochromatic photography. “I wanted to focus on the formal aspect of people dancing in a space”, Marton further explains.
Consequently, he utilises the gleam of the shiny dancehall floor and the soft rippling curtains of the stage to strengthen the camera’s perspective on dancer and surrounding environment. Additionally, of his decision to work in black and white, Marton explains, “it seemed like a good idea to further abstract the movements and interactions between the models.” And though the photographer doesn’t have any preconceived ideas about what the viewer should gain from viewing his work, Marton’s knack for visual communication through photography clearly informs the viewer in a highly accessible way.
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.