Loose Joints, 2023. First edition. Section-sewn debossed cloth hardcover with ribbon, 156 pp., 80 b/w illustrations, 270 x 320 mm. Photographs by Luis Alberto Rodriguez.
In O., acclaimed Dominican-American artist Luis Alberto Rodriguez strips down his choreographed, embodied approach to photography through a series that explores the free-fall of life, the construction of identity, and their connections with spiritual destiny. Influenced by French mystic thinker Simone Weil, Rodriguez draws a line between his stripped-down portraits and Weil’s life’s work, in search of purity and the relationship between suffering and transcendence. The title of the book – the letter O – speaks to this transcendence – between a noise, a gasp, an exhale, a cycle, all sounds, an open symbol, a zero, a reset.
Using a cast of different bodies, ages, backgrounds and identities, Rodriguez sculpts a series of nudes oscillating between power and a loss of control. Rodriguez challenges his subjects to let go: bodies contort and collapse while returning to poise, lifting to grace, and reaching into purity. How much control do we have over the direction we are headed? How soft is the landing?
Rodriguez frames his striking nudes in dialogue with images of tasseography – the practice of divination through coffee-cup reading that runs through Rodriguez’s Dominican heritage – to spiritually engage with the force and beauty of those who appear, and disappear, before his camera. O. envokes the volatility of our current moment, our states of self-preservation, and the future that is yet to come.
Dominican-American artist Luis Alberto Rodriguez trained as a dancer at The Juilliard School, performing worldwide for fifteen years before turning to photography. Now, he continues to study the human form’s movement, often using his subject’s body sculpturally and abstractly. In 2017, Rodriguez won both the Prix de Public and the American Vintage Prize at the 32nd Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography.