Michael Philip Manheim has been a professional photographer since 1969. A chance encounter with photography, at the age of 13, locked him onto a life-long pursuit.
Intrigued with the themes of change and transformation, Manheim developed a signature style of layering whole phases of movement onto a single frame of film. This approach transcends a literal interpretation. He calls this series the "Rhythm from Within".
Michael Philip Manheim's work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in Germany, Greece and Italy. His work has been featured in magazines such as Zoom (U.S. and Italy), Photographers International (Taiwan), La Fotografia (Spain), Black and White magazine, and numerous other publications.
He has been Artist in Residence at Bates College in Lewiston, ME and Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH.
Manheim's photographs are held in public and private collections, including the Library of Congress, the International Photography Hall of Fame & Museum, the Danforth Museum of Art and the Bates College Museum of Art. He has had over 15 solo exhibitions.
Julian Cox, curator of photography at Atlanta's High Museum of Art, noted that Manheim's photographs "have passion and beauty, and clearly considerable skill has gone into their execution."
I was intrigued with expanding the possibilities of still photography through a different approach to motion, so I developed my own method of multiple exposures. Then I set up a nurturing atmosphere, where my participants felt safe to tune into their emotions and express them physically.
I soon realized that I was photographing spirit more than surface. My subjects were not only moving, but they were also relating to nature in a manner that often revealed their inner selves.
I seemed to be photographing the psyche, a place far removed from what people present to the public. I learned to scout out special places in nature that promoted a cosmic relationship. In addition, I learned to encourage my subjects to produce spontaneous movement by drawing upon a place beyond conscious thought.
The work has evolved into deeply felt personal, emotional and psychological states that elicit universal themes in the viewer. This is an essence of successful portraiture, yet I wasn't interested in the literal representation of individuals. I preferred an abstract way of going deeper. I trusted the intuition of my participants to bring out the human condition. And I learned to trust my own intuition, as well.
After earlier experimentation and prior projects, I turned my attention to a major dance company. I began "The Energy of Dance" with the Limon Dance Company in 1998. I started by being in control, asking the dancers to repeat specific passages of movement that I had observed on stage and in rehearsals. They quickly caught on to the technique I was developing, and appropriately began improvising. I reacted instinctively and reflexively, adding many images to each frame of film, without time to deliberate. Giving up control meant welcoming a multitude of surprises. Over time, photographs appeared that ranged from amazing juxtapositions, to intricate meshings with nature, to complex depths of expression. Sometimes a rare and refreshing beauty developed that itself transcended the literal and reflected an inner radiance.
It became my signature style. A gallery director named this approach "Rhythm from Within", which became the new name for the project.
One reviewer came to call this "risky photography," because there was no way to predict the final outcome. The images form immediately upon the film. There's no later manipulation. And there's no premeditation, just meditation that powers my exploration of the "Rhythm from Within".
Nine years later, I have a large and still evolving body of work. I've assembled 36 images (28 in the Special Exhibit and the others on the website) that show the evolution of this body of work. More importantly, these are choice images from a series that delves into the roots of dance, from motion brought forth by emotion. This intuitive approach includes images of many famous dancers and dance companies, including the Limon Dance Company, Parsons Dance Company, Edisa Weeks, Robert Moses' Kin, and many others, including students at the annual Bates Dance Festival.
I'm now developing themes under the umbrella of "Rhythm from Within". The first segment is being shown in this current Special Exhibit. There will be many more that I will assemble over the years--both from the files and from new sessions.
(Note: one segment, "New Butoh", will be on exhibit from September 27-October 27, 2007 at Safe-T-Gallery, 111 Front Street, Suite 214 in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, NY. The exhibit will open with a reception for the artist on Thursday, September 27 from 6-8 p.m., and will be the site of a number of live butoh dance performances over the following five weeks. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon-6 p.m. and Thursday, noon-8 p.m.)