London-based photographer and music video director Josh Cole’s work is on display this week at Soho gallery Black Rat Projects.
Physical Graffiti is a series of images featuring break dancers, free runners and even athletic dogs forming striking poses against urban backdrops in cities across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The project’s title reflects the central theme of Cole’s work: using physical performance art to brighten downtown settings in various states of disrepair. It was inspired, he says, by hip-hop culture’s use of traditional graffiti in urban areas. “I wanted to make slum areas more beautiful by using the bodies of dancers,” he adds.
In one image, an Ubuntu dancer is captured mid-backflip in a crumbling South African township. In another, a group of barefoot children do handstands during a downpour in Manila.
While many of the streets featured in his work are home to poverty and hardship, Cole has managed to create an uplifting set of images by capturing his subjects’ energy and passion for performance. In 2009, he received an award from the Association of Photographers for his efforts.
As well as producing impressive stills, Cole has also been working on music videos and is now a director at Rokkit and Stink Productions. His video for Ministry of Sound, entitled In Pieces, was named Best in Book in CR’s 2011 Photography Annual and last year, he shot Rudimental video Not Giving In. Shot in Manila, the video is based on the real life experiences of Cole’s friend and breakdancing champion Mouse and his older brother.
Physical Graffiti will be on display until 6.00pm on May 8 at 15 Bateman Street, London W1D 3AQ. For more information visit: www.blackratprojects.com
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