KAREN ROBBINS: "DANCING" at Umbrella Arts gallery.

  Karen Robbins pleased a crowded room of eager guests with her first solo exhibition, DANCING, on Thursday. The crowd was filled with friends and visitors, all equally enthralled by the elegance of the photographs.


The exhibition consists of 27 gelatin prints that capture Ballroom competitions and Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing music and dance festival from the 1990’s. The dynamism and fluidity of the exhibition’s curation was highly praised by gallery owner MaryAnn Fahey and guests alike. Visitors move through the space following the stills from each dance as if to partake in the movement. I wanted to become a part of this scene, a part of the dance. The photographs exude timelessness, intimacy, and freedom. They are the subjects of unfettered joy.


Robbin’s own history with dance has perhaps allowed her to have a unique and personalized approach to the manner of photographing the medium. She has captured the ability of dance to not only free us of our own inhibitions, but to connect with other people beyond the scope of verbal communication. Body language has its own idiomatic power for communication and human connection. We can communicate in ways that we simply cannot through language. This unique phenomenon is venerated in Robbin’s graceful documentation. From the sweat upon their faces to the look in someone’s eyes, these nuances speak for so much more. It is this ambiguity of the subjects themselves as well as the composition of the photography that makes the images so compelling.


Barriers break down between male and female, child and adult. Dance disintegrates personal space, allowing for new kinds of affinity and affections. Photography is similar in its ability to break down personal anxieties and reticence between subject and photographer. The photographs represent multiple layers of human interaction, trust, and intimacy. Above all they are charismatic and joyful.


The exhibition will be on view through January 11, 2014 at Umbrella Arts gallery.


Review by Isabel Sullivan

Photos by Ali Rajabi

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