Bodily Expression in the Photography of Josh S. Rose

Unveiling Hidden Truths: Los Angeles dance photographer Josh S. Rose creates surreal narratives depicting the psych

Walking, standing, sitting. The city becomes a faceless mass repeating the same movements in succession. The black and white photography of Josh S. Rose disrupts this notion through the extraordinary contortions and entangled bodies of the dancers he photographs. These images are a manifestation of the deeper psychologies that often lie dormant, lurking beneath the surface, and rarely depicted with honesty. His works embody a unique convergence of the elegance of classic dance photography with the coarseness of city life. Thumbing through his images becomes a surreal experience, as if you have entered an alternate reality where each individual’s hidden inner emotions have corporealized on the streets of Los Angeles.

josh rose ballet pier tainted magazine article

Emotion Incarnate

The depth and delicacy of the human mind are difficult to capture in an image. A viewer can attempt to read the subtle lines of a face or minuscule bodily gestures that allude to a greater pain, joy, or anxiety, but the truth remains elusive. Rose’s photography leverages the physical capabilities of a dancer’s body to demolish barriers of externalizing states of mind.

The range of performance allows the often neglected, invisible elements of humanity to become the subjects. A dancer’s face planted in the sand as their body twists with angst towards the sky, arms reaching out grasping at a dancer’s body in desperate need for connection, and the childlike whimsy he captures as a dancer seems to fly from the bars of a shopping cart, all project a series of relatable experiences in an exaggerated form. The subjects defy gravity and physics as they bend and glide across Rose’s lens. Contorted yet effortless, these poses, which would be unnatural to come across in our daily lives, come together to create a world where emotion takes on physical form for all to witness.

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Reimagining City Life

Los Angeles, in contrast, is a city where no one is what they seem. The city is built upon hiding behind a facade, creating a new life, and never letting anyone too close to see what is beneath the surface. Rose’s photography dismantles this concept. His subjects are aligned with iconic features of the California city, whether it be the famed beaches or distinctive skyline. Each expresses themselves with such visceral force that they cannot be lost amidst the masses that routinely consume the city. 

Los Angeles is more than Rose’s home, but is a city emblematic of the need to suppress one’s internal struggles until they take on unrecognizable forms. As Rose positions each dancer amongst the diverse landscape that makes up the city, he gradually creates a world where perceived notions of ‘normal’ movement no longer exist. Every action, gesture, and form is accentuated through the intense contrasts of black and white.

josh rose shopping cart dancer tainted magazine article

These photographs rely upon the grace of his figures juxtaposed against the site-specificity of the cityscape to enhance the perception of a deeper need to express oneself and seek human connection. In one depiction, we witness three figures, arms outstretched, reaching until all three bodies interconnect, finding strength in one another. Positioned high above the sprawl of the city, their physical support expresses a desire for human dependence that becomes lost in the commotion that epitomizes life in the metropolis below.

josh rose santa monica ballet tainted magazine article
josh rose patricia dancer tainted magazine article

The seemingly unlikely pairing of these two approaches to the medium begin to mirror one another. The unspoken elements of life on the streets in Los Angeles is matched by the unspoken tribulations of its inhabitants. Josh S. Rose’s unparalleled eye illuminates these revelations through capturing the evocative movements of the dancers he photographs. As we lose ourselves in the world he creates, we are no longer witnessing dance but emotion personified.  

Follow photographer Josh S. Rose on Instagram [link] or his website [link


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