In O., acclaimed Dominican-American artist Luis Alberto Rodriguez strips down his choreographed, embodied approach to photography through a series that explores the free-fall of life, the construction of identity, and their connections with spiritual destiny. Influenced by French mystic thinker Simone Weil, Rodriguez draws a line between his stripped-down portraits and Weil’s life’s work, in search of purity and the relationship between suffering and transcendence. The title of the book – the letter O – speaks to this transcendence – between a noise, a gasp, an exhale, a cycle, all sounds, an open symbol, a zero, a reset.
Using a cast of different bodies, ages, backgrounds and identities, Rodriguez sculpts a series of nudes oscillating between power and a loss of control. Rodriguez challenges his subjects to let go: bodies contort and collapse while returning to poise, lifting to grace, and reaching into purity. How much control do we have over the direction we are headed? How soft is the landing?
Rodriguez frames his striking nudes in dialogue with images of tasseography – the practice of divination through coffee-cup reading that runs through Rodriguez’s Dominican heritage – to spiritually engage with the force and beauty of those who appear, and disappear, before his camera. O. envokes the volatility of our current moment, our states of self-preservation, and the future that is yet to come.