As a new resident of Atlanta, I am soaking up all the benefits of living in a metropolis. My favorite part? The abundance of public art. Nearly ever corner I turn, there is another mural, sculpture, or installation, either in plain sight or hidden amidst the concrete landscape. Every day, I am lucky enough to pass by a large mural that spans the side of an old building [below].
The public work was created for Outerspace Project in Atlanta, GA and it is located in Poncey Highlands, right next to a pretty sweet coffee shop named 8 Arm. With a fair size parking lot in front, the mural is set back nicely off of a busy road, Ponce de Leon Avenue, which is a commuter’s direct route into downtown. It almost needs this breathing space, not only because of its massive scale, but also because of it’s fragmented aesthetic, which is perceived much differently up-close and from a distance, and even more so in a photograph.
A visual brokenness shows the dancer with multiple arms and hands, as well as a repeated torso. This fragmentation, along with the dancer’s posture and clothing, suggests that her movements have been paused momentarily and that she will continue dancing again, at any second now. Because of this pause, there is a sense of uncertainty in the dancer’s next direction, inviting viewers’ imagination to participate in the continuation of the story. This kind of collaborative viewing experience may be one reason why I enjoy this work in a new and different way each time I see it.
There is also something in the imagery that feels very personal, allowing the viewer to see and experience a part of themselves. Maybe its the dancer’s covered face or the ambiguity of the person’s gender. Maybe its the anatomical intimacy that forces viewers to inhabit their own body more fully. Maybe its the implied sense of motion that draws upon someone’s memory of the past (or projection into the future) where they embodied a total sense of freedom and liberation.
Or perhaps its the simple act of dancing that describes a shared humanness and implies a personal reflection, since nearly everyone has danced at one point in their life. Overall, the celebratory nature of the mural is a not-so-subtle reminder to the public:
We are all have living bodies, so let’s enjoy them.
by Maria Borghoff