Illuminated Passion, by Amanda Pshyk, exposes its viewers to whirling swaths of light flaming across the stage in an elaborate dance.
The photos, exposed with a paintbrush-type filter, blur out a dancer’s face, showing us only the sensual shape of her performance. The digital photos displayed in Illuminated Passion are studies of passionate awareness, a drive to express and display strength and beauty.
Amanda Pshyk, a Yukoner of 11 years, takes digital photography to a ghostlike, ethereal realm in her upcoming show.
“I want to show how sensuality is not sexuality,” she says about the blurred images and shutter-exposed photos. The digital photos capture a belly-dancing performance, but not in the typical sense.
Belly dancing can be a form of restaurant entertainment for some, she tells me, but in reality it is an important cultural performance. “That is why anonymity for this show is preserved.
“It’s not about the lurid sexuality of the dancers, but rather the performance and communication aspect of this cultural dance,” Pshyk says. The distinction between sensual and sexual is an important one to Pshyk, and she seeks to preserve the sense of mystery in her art photography.
Her show features a photography shoot of a performance by Saba Middle Eastern Dance Company, Under a Cairo Moon, which was shot in the spring, a year and a half ago. She deliberately used an open shutter to capture the dancers in their most-expressive emotions and worked with the extra light to create sensual images.
Pshyk is no stranger to the art of professional dance: she has experimented with multidisciplinary art since she was a child growing up in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
“I seek to show what is real, but I also want to go beyond the ‘real’ to add depth to my images,” Pshyk says of her digital photography. Her artistry extends to handcrafted jewellery, as well, further displaying her need to explore with brightly coloured gems, stones and wire-spun pieces.
The unique, the delicate and the angelic are all displayed in her dance photography works, with titles such as The Light of Isis, to describe a glitter of costumes illuminated onstage. Pshyk admits to naming her pieces with purpose, describing it as a flash of inspiration.
“I name all my pieces. I meditate on what they should be called, and then it just hits me.” The title of the show, Illuminated Passion, speaks to Pshyk’s many interests – from exotic music, vibrant colour, passionate movement and expressive poetry.
The digital photos are also uniquely textured, adding dimension to simple photos. She uses a paint-style filter in her photos to add that texture as well as providing attendees to the show with a chance to feel a belly-dance costume, complete with jingling metal coins.
“It’s a multi-sense exhibit: I want viewers to be able to hear, feel and see what the dancing was like.”
Illuminated Passion runs until Oct. 30 at the Yukon Arts Centre Community Gallery.