Meet Eraj Asadi, New York City investment banker, quick-witted progeny of a Persian king and Bollywood siren, and after-hours photographer with a mean, keen eye for capturing the fleeting moment. No stranger to the New York burner community, Eraj and his work caught my eye the moment hoopers caught his. Which was relatively recently. In late 2010, the attention of his lens had shifted from urban landscapes and candid street images to performance-based photography. That’s how he bumped into performer Renata and got himself invited to the Gratitude party (Beyond Burners NYC). There, on a cold December night a year ago, and not knowing a soul, Eraj stumbled into a bright, shiny new world made for a man with a camera and the gift for it. This is the moment our hero meets the hoop. And thank god he didn’t put his camera down to try it, because over the next 12 months, Eraj Asadi produced some of the most compelling photographs of hooping I’ve ever seen.
It’s fair to say that we hoopers have developed a working vocabulary for what it feels like to be moving inside a hoop. In our more successful attempts to describe the ineffable, we use words like vortex, bubble, force field, channel, current, and flow. But peering into Eraj’s work, you’ll be pouring yourself into the eyes of someone watching – and truly seeing – that magic from the outside. His photographs seem to communicate what our words will only grasp at – serenity found at the center of chaos, a split second of bliss that will never quite be lived again in the same way. That’s because Eraj is no voyeur. He’ll leave recording, documenting for posterity, and passive observation to the point-and-shooters. Asadi is an artist intent on engaging his art with yours. “Shooting someone who’s in a moment of creating, combining my artistic perspectives and visual aesthetic with theirs, it’s co-collaboration … there’s real synergy there,” he muses. “The incredible things people do with hoops, combined with the music, and the camera … it builds on itself, it’s mesmerizing.”
Our hero may have first been struck with how the hoop can bring out the beauty of a woman in a way few other things can, but he’s warming up to the same in his male subjects. Like the photo of Michael Coyote he snapped at Pandemonium, the November 2011 marriage of friends Preston and Annie on a beach in Puerto Moreles, Mexico. Eraj explains, “Coyote was hooping, he was smoking, and it was all man.” The passion Eraj brings to photographing hoopers lay in his attention to both external and internal motion. In one of his favorite hooping photogrpahs (Victoria Lynn Wagner, with a purple and white LED hoop), he points out the details that inspire his gaze, “her expression, her fingers, the arc of the hoop, the skill involved. I’m not just watching a girl dance. I’m watching someone create art with music, lights and motion.”
So, Eraj is still not a hooper. Yet. And this will be the first and last time I’ll say such a slanderous thing, but I’m glad. Because he and his work have a lot to teach us about what our art looks like from the outside. We know someone’s always watching, but what do they see? Eraj sees someone in their element, surrendering to a moment, and reaching out past themselves in their movement. “That field emanates beyond the hoop,” Eraj told me, “The observer is drawn into the circle.” In the words of my Southern grandfather preacher, ‘Them’s pow’rful words.’
Can’t get enough of Eraj Asadi? No worries. He’s compiled a gallery of his hooper-specific photography here. It’s okay. Click “like” as much as you want to, and feel free to let him know if his art touches you the way yours has touched his.
Lara Eastburn has been dancing in meadows and singing with the moon while spinning in circles for eons at Superhooper.org. Beyond commenting here, you can also discuss this and other topics related to the Hooposophy for living in Hooping.org’s Hooposophy Group and Forum. Lara is also the planting and gardening force behind discovering our hooping community roots at The Hooping Family Tree Project.