Degas won well-deserved fame for his many studies of dancers - of women in motion, demonstrating grace and delicate power. Dancers continue to fascinate photographers and other artists, even after 150 years or more. Recent decades, however, have made more means of athletic expression available to women. All of the dancers' appeal endures, but can now express itself in more different kinds of physical display. Harper chooses to focus on acrobats, women (and some men) who stretch the definition of what human bodies can achieve.
Many of his models appear slightly clothed, but their forms and exertions remain clearly visible even so. And what forms - bent, contorted, suspended, or in some other way defying the laws of physics that bind the rest of us, these athletes create images that few of us will see in person, or only rarely. Harper has gone even farther, and found a natural or urban site ideally suited to each of these amazing people, and prepared it to show each one at her or his best.
Although imagery dominates this collection, as it should, a bit of text enhances the photo essay. Harriet Heyman (an acrobat and aerialist herself) has added her thoughts, and a paragraph-long biography adds depth to each model's image. Viewers demanding prurience won't find much here, but that's their loss. I recommend this highly to anyone passionate about human, and especially feminine expressions of strength and beauty.