In celebration of the release of Jevan Chowdhury's exquisite collection of 40 photographs and an entrancing film titled Moving London, we at Sedition are thrilled to delve into the artistic journey and the storytelling genius of the man behind the lens. Vladislav Alimpiev, Sedition’s community manager, had the privilege to pose a series of questions to Jevan, exploring the inspirations, challenges, and beautiful narrative his work articulates. What follows is a conversation that navigates the visual spectacle, making Moving London a significant milestone in Jevan's illustrious Moving Cities project.
Q: What inspired you to embark on the Moving Cities project, and how does Moving London fit within that larger vision?
Jevan: The impulse to start Moving Cities in 2012 really came from the commemoration of the First World War, the Centenary. I believed an artistic examination of cities today would serve well - and what better way to establish this than via the free language of dance. An alternative inspiration behind Moving Cities is the book Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. A series of short meditations articulating the characters of lost cities within an ancient empire. As a born and bred Londoner, I felt compelled to take on the challenge of Moving London and to create a harmonious narrative from what is arguably a chaotic city.
Q: The seamless juxtaposition of the ancient and modern in London plays a major role in your works. How do you find and capture these moments of convergence?
Jevan: The only convergence I consciously seek is in the movement of the dancer versus the movement of the city. Although location is important to me, I don’t look for specific historic parts of a city to shoot in, only light and industrial movement.
Q: Can you explain how you went about selecting the dancers and locations for Moving London?
Jevan: I selected contemporary dancers I had seen and was fascinated by. I invited them to participate on condition that the intensity of their performance would respond to the environment and that they wouldn’t over-prepare or choreograph. The group scenes in unions are the only choreographed scenes.
Q: What challenges did you encounter during the creation of Moving London, and how did they shape the final work?
Jevan: The challenge of making Moving London was mostly in the edit. I had lots of good usable footage but you have to be ruthless about what you remove and then occasionally explain to a dance artist that their 1-hour filming contribution resulted in 5 seconds in the film.
Q: It's been said that cities are like living organisms, constantly evolving and changing. How did the dynamism of London influence your artistic vision?
Jevan: London is a fairly suppressive environment. While it is also an amazing city with plenty of opportunity, it is at the same time an exhausting place to live, especially if you have to commute for hours on the London Underground. So, the dynamism of London wasn’t the focus of my work, but the unbearable rushing around rat race aspect of it.
Q: The transformative power of dance is evident in your work. Why, in your opinion, is dance the perfect medium to present cities in their rawest forms?
Jevan: I think dance is very much an underused language, often thought of as too abstract by filmmakers. This is true and as a storytelling medium stage dance lives in a sort of a propped-up publicly funded niche of its own, not really engaging the mainstream. So, I think there is an opportunity to unearth the narrative possibilities dance offers for filmmakers, but as an almost silent medium, it won’t be easy. In terms of why dance evokes cities so well, I think that comes back to our suspended and compliant behavior in cities which dance offers an antithesis for.
Jevan's meticulously crafted images and his visually poetic film transport us through the lens, reflecting an elegant ballet of existence in the heart of urban chaos. The collection Moving London is now available on Sedition, waiting for audiences to immerse themselves in a dialogue between the natural grace of human movement and the engineered rhythm of a city that never sleeps.
Explore and acquire works from Moving London and allow yourself to be moved by the rhythmic narrative of city life, as told through the poetic choreography of Jevan Chowdhury.