Lithe bodies fly through space like they're in anti-gravity and the laws of physics are somehow suspended. Vivid mops of red hair and colorful ensembles stand out against muted backgrounds, while stark shadows pierce the sepia-toned light. Though the poses they strike seem impossible—a purple-suited person seems to slam head-first into a grassy field, while a figure in blue appears to tip backwards into an empty swimming pool—these stunning images aren't the product of Photoshop manipulation. Created in conjunction with two dancers from the Stockholm dance company, Impossible Balance is a photo series done entirely in-camera, photographed by Marcus Palmqvist, with a concept and art direction by Gem Fletcher.
"The project centers around the idea of impossible balance, that moment of tension where you're essentially in a state of limbo, the fine line between control and chaos," Fletcher tells Creators. "This concept is more about 'letting go' of control and believing in the performers I work with," Palmqvist adds. Though the duo approached Impossible Balance with a specific idea and mood they wanted to achieve, they leaned on the balletic skill of the dancers, experimenting with flexibility and body control to contort the human form into various shapes.
"We had an idea of the types of movement we were looking for, and on the shoot day we made time for experimentation to push these ideas further. We were fortunate to work with two incredibly accomplished dancers from the Stockholm dance company. They truly committed to the project bringing the right combination of skill, passion and energy which allowed them to hold those awkward, gravity defying moments long enough for us to capture them," Fletcher says.
Captured within the images, erratic movements and bright garments are juxtaposed by manicured, grey-and-green surroundings. "To increase the tension, we blended graphic locations emphasizing a sense of order, with the wild and surreal body movements. Marcus has an incredibly sculptural approach to capturing motion, so I felt he would be the perfect collaborator," Fletcher explains.
For Fletcher and Palmqvist, furthering their craft and not being afraid to experiment are qualities paramount to their artistic practice and vital in producing grade-A work. "I like to push my image-making as far as possible, without it being dangerous! In finding an unexpected moment, it's part control and part chance. I know that I have captured a great moment when I am surprised by the results," Palmqvist says. "If i feel it's something new, unique, and that the shape and the moment of impact is surreal and makes the mind spin, I know it's working. Also, if I laugh when I see the image, I feel confident that it's great."