White, muted nudes and pale pinks are reflected in the wall to wall mirrors of an empty ballet studio. The models’ nubile bodies and clean faces have a Lolita-like quality. It’s all limbs and naked skin; the viewer becomes a voyeur. Like Nabakov’s nymphet, this work escapes the realm of childhood purity and innocence, instead creating a space of ambiguity, in equal measures awkward and erotic, but ultimately, undoubtedly beautiful.
The vision for the shoot was conceived by Julia, an art student “obsessed with juxtapositions”. Her goal was the mixture of “awkward and ornate, next to hard light and reflections, next to contortions and an almost pre-pubescent unawareness in the models’ bodies and poses”. Having danced herself for ten years, Julia saw this as an opportunity to revisit her own memories and the beauty of balletic aesthetic. After securing Kent’s involvement, Julia went on to tackle the logistical aspect of booking models and securing locations — what she calls “the science behind the magic”.
Always keen to explore different perspectives, Kent explained what drew him to the project and how it developed:
“I’ve been a big fan of integrating reflections into my work for a while now. I like the idea of creating images that warp spacial understanding and conventions. So we decided a ballet hall would be great as it has great muted colours as well as long panels of mirror taking up most of the walls. Once we had the space locked down we assembled the elements and on the day let it evolve from there.”
Where the photographic images are very raw — the bright flash on the models’ skin and red eye are left unedited — Tao’s video shows the studio in soft, mid-afternoon light. Set against the melodious notes of the piano, the models appear lulled to sleep against the studio mirror in a dazed, dream world of honey golden hair and sheer underwear.
The styling for the shoot channels a mixture of sports luxe and ballerina girl-child. Linear leotards alongside romantic bed-jackets and antique lingerie create a combination of whimsy and allure. Also, those Nike Air Maxes are to die for.