In the darkened streets of New York City, Brooklyn-based photographer Ben Franke captures the gravity-defying vaults of Parkour athletes. The training practice, based in part off of military obstacle courses, is a noncompetitive discipline wherein skilled participants get from a point A to a point B using the most efficient techniques, including climbing, jumping, and vaulting. Hoping to stay true to the essence of the holistic method, the artist partnered with the city’s first Parkour facility, BRKLYN BEAST. By coating his agile subjects in flour, he is able to track their motion across a single frame. Like stardust flung across Franke’s spare set, the white powder explodes in the wake of leaps and bounds, allowing the passage of time to exist within a still photograph.
Caught in the moment between takeoff and landing, frozen with their bodies pulled tight and desperately flung forward, Franke’s subjects abandon any and all physical comfort zones, transcending the laws of nature. Men and women, now elegantly silhouetted urban shadows, are captured in periods of meditative concentration; in this busy cityscape, they create moments wherein the body and the mind exist as one. Plunging into blackness. these athletes become celestial bodies, hurdling across the night sky. Ben Franke was included in the American Photography 30.