Photographer Jared Kellogg’s new project takes a look at the art of flamenco dance here in Albuquerque. Partnering with Flamenco Works, he has applied the craft of traditional black and white film photography to show the grace and passion of the dance. The collaboration has resulted in a combination art exhibit and performance that takes place on Nov. 3 at Casa Perea Art Space in Corrales. Weekly Alibi sat down with Kellogg to talk about his inspiration, technique and the art of flamenco. The following is an edited version of that conversation.
Weekly Alibi: How did you begin this project?
Jared Kellogg: I went down a rabbit hole trying to find cool, historic photos of flamenco shows or flamenco artists from the 1800s. There's not a lot to look at, or there's not really a lot cataloged online I should say. I've been shooting flamenco artists for four or five years now digitally and I never took the time to take it into the darkroom or really tried to like build an art around it. I wanted to take it a step further. My goal was to highlight what Flamenco Works is doing in the South Valley. They're right there. A lot of people don't realize this, but this dance has been here since the 1400s, since the Spanish came to New Mexico. It's a part of their culture. I feel like Flamenco Works is trying to step up and fill a hole that's there right now in the South Valley and give the youth the ability to come in, learn and carry that culture on.
Because I'm also an advocate for film photography, I wanted to incorporate the two together. I thought it would be better to have a gallery in the flamenco show and kick it off by actually using some of the youth that are in the classes that do the dancing. I photographed them, took the negatives into the darkroom and made prints. They're all 11 inches by 14 inches, hand printed.
Are you using 35 millimeter?
I'm using 120 millimeter. Six by five. These are all handmade, hand dodged, hand printed, right on a gelatin silver, black and white.
Did they approach you for the project or did you approach them?
I approached them.
Were they into it right away?
Then it was just into the logistics of how to put the thing together?
What actually kicked it off is when I met the owners of Casa Perea, because this all ties together with the history of Albuquerque. Casa Perea is one of the oldest houses in Corrales. They're trying to get into the art gallery scene. Talking to Bernadette and Martha, they're the curators of that venue, they thought it was an awesome idea. They had a flamenco show there before, but they never had anything like a full gallery show and a dance show.
How will this work on the day of this performance? Is the gallery adjacent to the performance? Is it incorporated within it?
The first of November kicks off my gallery show. The third is really for Flamenco Works to come in and show everybody what his [executive director and instructor Jesús Muñoz] students can do, what he's teaching the youth and hopefully get some insight and some fire behind it. For me, I know how film is. It's going to last forever. I'll have these negatives protected. They're going to last hundreds of years. I’ll have a cool document of flamenco history here in Albuquerque
In flamenco, the stillness is as important as the movement. When you were capturing these images, were you cognizant of that? Did that inform your approach?
Sure. I brought a lot of film. I spent a lot of time in the darkroom, saying no to this negative and yes to this negative. One of the ways I approach it is I let them direct the shoot. I'm just behind the camera. I didn't use any artificial lighting.
Where did you shoot?
At Casa Perea.
Where the performance is taking place?
Yes. I thought it was pretty cool to tie all three together. That was my idea. I let them do their thing. I don't know the poses of flamenco. I don't know them by name. I just know when to shoot the shutter and what my aperture should be set at. So, that's how I approached it. I let them do their dance. We shot for probably three or four or five hours and then we went back and did another shoot. It's in the development process from there.
In flamenco there is, I don’t want to say it's a schism, but there is traditional flamenco and a more modern form that has developed. The same can be said for photography. You're using an older form. Is there a correlation between the form that they're using and the technique you're using?
Yeah, absolutely. That's a good point. They are using modern techniques in their dance for sure. Flamenco way back in the day was a family thing. It was a family gathering. People just gathered around and started singing and the dancing. It wasn't a theatrical performance at that point. With the poses that they're doing now, it's more modern. It’s adjacent to this time that we're in, but I'm capturing in an older format.
Why did you choose to use black and white film?
Very simple. When I first witnessed flamenco, the passion and the dedication that people put into their performance was very black and white. It's right there. It's not something you can fake. It's super intense. I was blown away, for someone who's coming from a background like mine.
You grew up in Missouri?
I grew up in Missouri.
There is no culture in Missouri.
Not at all. I'm sure other people will disagree with me on that, but that's just my perspective. Talk about culture shock for me. I really wanted to learn about it. It was just really cool to see something that was way before the history of my town, right in my state. I just felt like the performance was very black and white. There was a lot of color in the dance, but I felt I wanted to show the silhouettes of the artists themselves, the poses and how much work they put into it.
What do you want audiences to take away from the pairing of the performance and the still images?
When I look at the photos, especially one of the photos I call "The Guitarist"–the guitar is the most important instrument in flamenco. I didn't want to highlight his face. I just wanted to highlight the instrument itself. I want to speak to people out there who may not know flamenco very well. Like people from my background. It's very intimate. One to two artists at a time. I want you to see and feel as if you were there at a flamenco show. I'm trying to honor the art instead of just taking a picture on my phone and posting an Instagram. I’m really trying to highlight the art itself.
Did you discover you captured the decisive moment in the camera or in the darkroom?
It's really both. I shot a lot inside Casa Perea. If you go there, you'll notice it's very dark and there are only a few skylights. The camera that I have, it doesn't have a very fast shutter speed. When they're dancing, they're moving, but I didn't want to limit them or hold them and bar them to just do strict poses. But there are pauses in flamenco where they really stretch themselves in that pose. That's when I was executing my shutter. The artists themselves were perfect. I couldn't have asked for a better models, or I should say dancers?