In 1916, the couple Frank and Lillian Gilbreth decided, in a typical Taylorist fashion, to study how to make industrial work cycles shorter and more efficient. Combining the studies of work movements, timing and chronocyclegraphs – a photographic technique in which the movements made by the portrayed subject leave a trail of light, not unlike light painting – they asked factory workers to repeat again and again the movements they used in their everyday tasks. After analyzing them, the couple suggested modifications in such gestures that could lead to “more efficient, successful and happy” labourers.
The same techniques were employed almost a hundred years later by photographer Leticia Ramos in the series “Resistance of a Body”, on view at Mendes Wood DM Brussels since Thursday, April 18th. The series – which can also be seen at Instituto Moreira Salles Rio de Janeiro (IMS RJ) as part of the exhibition “Corpo a Corpo” [Body against Body] through July this year – studies the movement of the bodies during street demonstrations, analysing for example how they behave as they throw objects, have to communicate through social networks, or are hit by water jets.
“In some images, a head, a bust and a hand caught in something are hit by jets of water, the backlit drops spreading out like the Milky Way. In another image, a doll smashes on the ground, as if it were a living person,” writes curator Thyago Nogueira in an essay about the series published in the “Corpo a Corpo” catalogue. Although portraying puppets and mannequins, the images feel violent, oppressive. In Nogueira’s words: “Indirect representation also dehumanizes, is what the artist appears to say in this dark and disturbing work where photograph is made into a still-life, or almost still.”
“Resistance of a Body”, solo show by Leticia Ramos
On view from April 18th through May 26th, 2018