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The opposite end of the lens

Posted September 11th, 2008

I met JJ Tiziou at the Greenline yesterday. We ate bagels and talked about photography, the Festival, and the opposite end of the lens.

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How performance is not like real life
JJ clued me in on a few things about photographing performance, mainly the fact that performance is not as predictable as real life. If you see a guy on the street walking in a particular direction, chances are good that he will continue walking in that direction. But with theater and dance in particular, you can’t always predict the performer’s next move. The upside of photographing performance is that it usually happens more than once (life rarely offers guaranteed repetition of this kind). You might not know him, but he knows you
Since 2003, JJ has been taking photos at the Festival. His archive is millions of files deep. Until last year, it was a marathon—he shot nearly every Live Arts and Fringe show, every event, days at the box office, and numerous nights at the Cabaret. He was ubiquitous. As a result, he says that he has a monstrous catalogue of faces in his head—if you’re reading this, and you’ve been in Philly for a few years, chances are good that JJ knows your face. But do you know his? Think about that question.

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Performance that is the act of documenting
Last week, JJ shot bodies in urban spaces, Willi Dorner’s twenty-dancer marathon that lead audiences through Center City. It was impossible not to notice JJ during this performance—it seemed like he was constantly perching in trees or chimmying up lamp poles just to get a good angle. It was as if he had trained with the dancers, just so he’d be ready to shoot the show. As with a movement improvisation, he has to respond to every move of his subject. Does JJ have a future as a dancer? We’ll see.

How Philly Moves
How Philly Moves is JJ’s show in the Philly Fringe this year. Come to Studio 34 and for ten minutes, you’ll be his subject. Dancers and movers of all kinds are welcome.

How Philly Moves
4522 Baltimore Avenue

Sept 12 from 12-7pm
Sept 13 + 14 from 10am-6pm

See millions of Festival photos at JJ’s recently updated and improved website.

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