‘Act’: Meditations on the Disabled Body

Denis Darzacq courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery
Denis Darzacq courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery
Adrien Kempa. Act 29.

“Physically and psychologically disabled people still aren’t very well accepted in society,” says photographer Denis Darzacq. “And this is a situation that artists have to take care of.”

More than two years ago, Darzacq began photographing people facing challenges such as cerebral palsy and Down’s Syndrome, which has culminated in a series called ACT, on display at New York City’s Laurence Miller Gallery though June 15. Darzacq worked with his subjects to think of poses that would capture the mood of his previous series, HYPER, in which teenagers and young adults tumbled and danced through bright and modern supermarkets in Europe. “The images in HYPER had young, powerful men and women,” the Paris-based photographer says. “I want to do the same images with people who have had trouble finding a place in society from the beginning of their lives.”

The series has taken him to the United States, the United Kingdom and France as Darzacq has worked with various organizations to find his subjects, with whom he collaborated on movements as well as location scouting. “I wanted them to get into reality—the real spaces of cities because they belong to the society, too,” he says. “I told them, ‘If you want to go to museum, park or city hall—let’s go there and try to find the image that you want to express.’”

The photographer’s favorite moment came during a shoot with the actors of a theater company in Bradford, England. “One guy told me, ‘Denis you made a mistake,’ and he corrected my English,” Darzacq says. “I was teaching them something about photography, and they were teaching me about language. Suddenly, it was a wonderful moment of sharing.”

Denis Darzacq is a Paris-based photographer and member of Agence VU. ACT is on view through June 15 at the Laurence Miller Gallery in New York City. 

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