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Art Photobook Reviews

Where The Spirit Meets The Bone by Monique Belier

Updated: Mar 14

Without a doubt a passion project, this beautiful debut from Dutch photographer Monique Belier is a visual dialogue, a love letter to dance.

A conversation between photographer and practitioner, it is a body of work that is shot through with both the understanding and empathy of one whose lifeblood is rooted in the art form.

Both teacher and choreographer, to discover that Belier has a background in dance comes as no surprise, her love of the medium is imbued in every image.

In a gently toned monochrome essay Belier has presented us with a series of visual journeys, a celebration of movement and personal expression.

This in and of itself is not a particularly unusual statement, in fact it could well be seen as the definition of dance itself.

However the journeys referred to are those that occur between the performer's first movement - from the first intake of breath - and the last.

The points during which the dancer is a captive of their own world, allowing the subconscious to reign and thoughts to be as liquid as limbs in encouraging them to surrender to the ecstasy of abandon.

Belier's images observe these moments of purity.

Physical sculpture and contortion.

Unrestrained and without boundaries or rules.

The creation of art is indeed an intimate process.

This spontaneous expression is the kinetic equivalent of Miles Davis or Charlie Parker in full flow.

A disconnect of breath and notes, soaring like birdsong,

Of jazz made physical.

Of oil hitting canvas,

A chorus of colours, animating and stimulating.

Whether laid down on canvas with a surgeon's precision or hurled across a welcoming and expectant limbo, its destination is the same, a rapture returned.

The meticulous perfection of a Canaletto or Wyeth.

Or the abstract modernist landscape of aural splashes, stabs and sweeps.

Twombly in motion.

Behind the eyes worlds unfold and yes, spirit meets bone.

This orchestrated amalgam of movements can be controlled and precise or wild and unpredictable.

Canaletto or Twombly..

These practitioners speak in tongues.

The language of dreams for an audience of dreamers.

It seems only fitting that the object be as elegant and understated as its subject matter and in this respect also, When The Spirit Meets The Bone does not disappoint.

Housed in an illustrated slipcover which allows the pale softcover book to be removed vertically, we are greeted with warm and soft Munken paper stock.

The book's open spine is barely concealed by a light gauze which  acts almost as an ethereal quarter binding, delicate and attached only along the spine itself.

The images ebb and flow, they pulse with life, strain with the efforts of the performers and whether Belier presents faceless abstract contortions or considered portraits, the passion, intensity and commitment of her protagonists is luminous.

We have been granted access to a private world, away from the formality of a choreographed performance available to view en masse and with rigid regularity.

Between these pages we can revisit in quiet moments at our leisure, perhaps whilst Mingus whispers in our ears.

Where The Spirit Meets The Bone is self published.

The first edition is sold out but a second signed and numbered run of 150 copies is expected in September 2023 and can be preordered from


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