Dr Charles Paul Azzopardi has been capturing the kinetic energy and the steadfast motion of dancers and acrobats for four years now. He’s been selected to work with several international dance companies, including the renowned Cirque du Soleil. His latest exhibition, SOAR – Anatomy in Motion, is part of the Spazju Kreattiv programme at St James Cavalier in Valletta, and is open to the public all day till the 10th of April.
Your creations are the fusion of an ephemeral art with a permanent one. Would you say that your work seeks to immortalise the dancer’s art?
My body of work seeks to immortalise the capabilities of the human body, its forms and its motion, eliciting and evoking emotion, but the fact that the subject matter happens to be performing artists is secondary to the theme. The thread relates to human motion and emotion; dance technique, choreography or the performance itself is not the primary aim of the work.
It’s not just a photographer that’s looking through the lens, but also a physician. How has this perspective influenced your work?
Being a physician ensures that years of medical and anatomical training gives me an edge and a specific perspective when looking at the human body and how best to depict it and its capabilities, how best to portray its emotion and how to capture motion that transcends the performance itself to become an altogether other-worldly performance in itself.
When capturing dancers, you’re not just recording a biological happening, but also one of physics. Would you say that your work has a focus on Newton’s Laws of Motion or movement in general?
My work is as much about the motion as about the emotional experience. I prefer and actively shoot performers in a specific way to invoke and show motion so that the final image frames are not static, but imply movement and showcase it in a way which the human eye cannot see, fractions of time infinitesimal which are below the threshold of human perception but which can only be captured by a trained eye.
Who inspires you?
My inspirations are a myriad, but I would have to say Henri Cartier Bresson for the never-ending search to seek decisive moments to capture, Alex Attard for his mentoring in black & white post-processing and mastery of the medium, and Joe Smith, the exhibit’s curator, for his long standing excellent work in the dance photography sector locally.
In your exhibition SOAR, your viewers will also be able to read some of your original writings which accompany the prints.
Besides being a physician and a professional photographer, I’m also a writer. Seeing the totality of the works presented in the exhibit, they were used as inspiration to write a whole original piece from start to finish of the whole exhibit, with each frame having an accompanying haiku related to what is portrayed in the frame, which also connects sequentially with all the other haikus in the exhibition space to create one whole, holistic thread and story throughout the whole exhibit.