“I spend a lot of time on the floor,” says Ginger Ana Griep-Ruiz, a Cirque du Soleil aerialist and photographer whose Pop Up series transforms magazine photographs into surprising subjects of her own work.
Using images from publications she collects, Griep-Ruiz cuts out and reinforces the printed pictures, and then photographs them, still attached to the magazine and often outside and from low angles. A second-generation circus performer, she relates her ground-level point of view to her childhood, when she received a 110mm Kodak and began snapping photos of family, including her fire-eater father and aerialist mother.
“Our family photo albums have very few pictures of me, and many photographs were taken from oddly low angles,” Griep-Ruiz writes in her artist statement.
“Safari Hanami,” taken for an uncle who was an elephant handler, depicts an African elephant walking in a Tokyo park dotted with cherry blossoms. The serene pachyderm appears to be full-sized in the photo, and the illusion remains even after the viewer notices the calendar page unfolding before it. From afar it could be a white sheet or tarp.
“She went a walkin…” shows the silhouette of a model from a hotel chain advertisement strolling in the desert at sunset—purple, pinks and oranges crowding a pointed mountain peak behind her. The woman, head cocked and thigh-gapped, seems to be walking a small, short-legged dog, when in reality it’s several fish obscured by shadow. “I don’t think people get it,” Griep-Ruiz says. “They expect it to be Photoshopped.” But it’s not. “There is absolutely not digital manipulation beyond simple tonal adjustments …” her statement reads. “What you see, I made by hand and in camera.”
Since that first Kodak, her camera has remained in reach as she’s performed and coached aerial silks for Cirque du Soleil for more than 13 years, including three and a half years in Tokyo. She has appeared in Zed, La Nouba and Delirium and currently performs in Mystère. “It’s a constant evolution,” she says of her job as an aerialist. “I’ve never finished it, and I never will finish it.” The same goes for her photography.
Pop Up Through March; call for hours. Blackbird Studios, 1551 S. Commerce St., 702-782-0319.