Michal Chelbin: How to Dance the Waltz

Author(s): Michal Chelbin

photography monographs

Israeli photographer Michal Chelbin (born 1974) has spent several years traveling through Ukraine and Spain to explore the connection and tension between youth and uniforms. Internationally acclaimed for her striking portraits of teenagers throughout Eastern Europe, Chelbin recognizes adolescence as a liminal space between childhood and adulthood, a stage of one’s life that can be difficult to represent in all its complexities and contradictions. Chelbin’s teenage subjects embody that contrast to the fullest extent: their youth is apparent despite the startlingly adult contexts in which they are placed, as one can see in her previous work taken in juvenile prisons or traveling acrobat troupes.

In How to Dance the Waltz, Chelbin looks at puberty and gender as a performance that involves as much attention to costumery as any circus act. The subjects in this collection are dressed in military garb, traditional maid uniforms, extravagant debutante gowns and outfits of matadors, all slightly ill-fitting and strange on their slight frames. In each photograph, the teens gaze directly into Chelbin’s camera, seemingly impassive, their world-weary seriousness contradicted by the unmistakable youthfulness of their faces. This imagery hints at the ways societal expectations of gender, especially in regard to clothing and uniform, can inform a teenager’s cognitive development and overall identity. Chelbin’s remarkable portraits simultaneously represent their subjects’ vulnerability and self-possession.


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9788862087261
  • : Damiani
  • : Damiani
  • : April 2021
  • : May 2021
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Michal Chelbin
  • : Hardback
  • : 108