Culture Device is a group of dancers, performers, and artists with Down Syndrome ready to challenge prejudices and change attitudes towards people with an extra chromosome. Being engaged on their journey from London clubs into art institutions and galleries it felt absolutely natural to join the creative team of “The Rite” - artistic residence at Royal Opera House, which finished with the reinterpretation of “The Rite of Spring”. The Series of portraits captures the energy of performance with the uniqueness of each individual in their stage character as actors and professionals, but also as humans. Through photographs, I simultaneously observed both streams of courage and moments of doubt, stretches of joy and the heaviness of worry, and a wide spectrum of beauty in all its complexity.
The title Rite comes from the name of the ballet piece, The Rite of Spring, which defined the art direction, and the whole mood of the photographs. Being premiered in 1913 Paris The Rite of Spring challenged many rules of music composition and choreography and caused an enormous riot among the audience, as it broke all the expectations of ballet at the time and by that, started an entirely new era in the history of dance. Artist of Culture Device faces the same challenges in today’s society. Their movement is full of life, less controlled, and thus more emotional showing life in its full expression. The same power is included in the portraits, which rather than photographic or technical perfection focus on the individuality of each character and our communication in the presence of the camera. Their beauty might not fall into traditional standards of our society but it is so rich, interesting, and so honest that it proves these standards biased, old-fashioned, and simply wrong.
Artists of Culture Device have a message to share and they want the world to listen, look, come closer, and join. They want to show their faces without people turning away. Artists portrayed do not wish to hide their medical condition, nor do they don't want to be defined by that. Like everyone, they want to be celebrated for their strengths and understood in moments of vulnerability. Together we want to confront prejudices, stigmas, and conventions, and head towards a more diverse and inclusive future in the world of arts as well as in everyday life.
The Rite video directed by Adam Csoka Keller was created in collaboration with Culture Device, Nowness & Royal Opera House in London.