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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Peggy Jarrell Kaplan: Portraits of BAM Artists (1982—2015)

Mikhail Baryshnikov holding a portrait of Peggy Jarrell Kaplan. Photo: Peggy Jarrell Kaplan, 2000
by Susan Yung

Photographer Peggy Jarrell Kaplan has photographed approximately 135 artists who have performed or collaborated with BAM. In 1984, she had photographed enough BAM artists that Humanities Director Roger Oliver suggested she shoot the complete round of season artists to illustrate the Next Wave Journal. Kaplan also photographed the artists for the 1985 journal. She had two solo shows in conjunction with BAM: Portraits Celebrating BAM's Next Wave Festival: 1983—89 (Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, 1992) and Staged: BAM Artist Portraits (Harvey Theater, 2004).

 Peggy Jarrell Kaplan, Sasha Waltz, 1995
The many gifted performers who grace BAM's stages are simply the most visible members of a vast network of creative, technical, and administrative talents that combine to get shows on stage, in addition to documenting them for posterity. By photographing the artists off of the stage, in formal portraits, Kaplan occupies a unique niche. She states: "Why take photographs? To prolong the performance." These glimpses of our generation's artists enrich and round out our familiarity with them.

Kaplan's black & white portraits, mainly of choreographers and dancers, have been shown widely, often in conjunction with performance festivals, in cities around the world, in addition to New York exhibitions at the Feldman Gallery and CPR, among others. Her photographs have been reproduced in countless publications, including a monograph of her work, and are in collections including the Met Museum and MoMA in New York and the Dansmuseet in Stockholm.

Fourty-four of Kaplan's portraits are on display in the cases on the third floor of BAM's Peter Jay Sharp building, on view through the 2015 Next Wave Festival. The 10 large ones are of artists featured in the current festival; some were taken years ago, proof of the deep ties BAM (and Kaplan) shares with many artists. A selection of 34 smaller photos show the scope of BAM's programming, as well as the durability of Kaplan's ongoing project and her tenacity in pursuing subjects.

Note: the monograph of Kaplan's work, Portraits of Choreographers (1988, Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, NY and Editions Bouge, Paris), will be available at Greenlight Bookstore. It includes 30 duotone reproductions.

Photos courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

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