Butoh is a style of Japanese modern dance that resists definition. Beginning in early 2015, Jennings began collaborating with students of the Subbody Resonance Butoh school in Dharamshala, India, and over the next few months documented unscripted performances, mostly unannounced and public, around Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.
This subversive, avant-garde dance form originated in Japan in the late 1950s but has since evolved into an international art form. Butoh is usually performed with white body paint, commonly features grotesque imagery and taboo topics, and often is performed in extreme or absurd environments. The dance itself is said to be a paradoxical process of self-oblivion and self-realization.
In its exploration of the hidden, often unconscious, impulses and emotions latent in the body, and the inseparability of body to elements and influences beyond the skin, Jennings was drawn to Butoh’s acknowledgement of the terror and rapture of human experience, as well as what he saw as its rejection of bourgeois cultural norms and the oppression of reason. To watch a Butoh dance is a shocking and enlightening experience, an axe chop into the frozen sea of the habitual mind. These prints are intended to disrupt and lure viewers into the realm of Butoh’s unfathomability.
Note: the images presented in the collection were not posed, directed, lit or doctored; they are documentary.
David Joshua Jennings’ interest in photography began with and grew alongside his interest in travel. Born in Yukon, Oklahoma, Jennings spent most of his 20s on the road, traveling through more than 50 countries. During this time his camera served as a means of exploration as well as its justification. Without designs, he documented his journeys and allowed his craft to grow organically through experimentation and error.