Defying Gravity with Mickael Jou

Berlin based artist Mickael Jou has spent the last three years combining two if his favourite forms of art: photography and dance. He is about halfway through his 365 photo project titled Air through my Ashes; a collection of self-portraits that capture the dancer walking on air.

“As a trained dancer, I used to perform ballet and modern dance in the streets of Paris. Tourists would quite often photograph and film me in action in Paris, and after seeing the pictures taken of me, I decided I should try it out,” explains Jou. “And so I bought a camera, and read the instruction manual.”

Jou photographs himself everywhere from cafes and supermarkets, to attics and street corners. He alone plans, art directs, and takes the portraits, and has begun writing pieces to accompany each image that explain his state of mind in the photograph.

“Starting at photo 183, I decided to add writing, documenting my locations and my thoughts,” explains Jou. “So much artistry is intimidating. I think back to when I started photography, I naturally compared myself to others and felt somewhat inferior. I would pore over different photography styles and asked myself if I was embarking on the right path. I took a little from each photographer I discovered and kept on going. And it’s nice to be able to document those thoughts and discoveries alongside the results.”

Jou’s astonishing work ethic and commitment to his project is only a sample of the renaissance man in the rest of his life. He is a self-taught dancer, speaks 4 languages, and is a published author.  Always setting very high standards for himself, Jou asserts that in his pursuit of artistic excellence, he treasures the journey more than the result.

“When I taught myself German, I sat myself down for 6 hours a day for a month a half and studied. And I actually enjoyed it. I enjoyed learning new words, new grammatical expressions. I enjoyed the intensity. It was fun, and every single word and conjugation gave me this euphoric (and exhausting) feeling that I had embarked on this wonderful path to somewhere new. And indeed, thee months later, I moved to Germany,” recalls Jou. “And over the years, I’ve followed my own path. And then one day I forgot about comparing myself, the “oh he/she might be better.” I forgot to compare myself because I was just enjoying what I was doing. I figured out why I enjoy taking my self-portraits and just ran.”

“I look at the path I’ve covered. I look at the dust rising up in my tracks and I just stare into this not so distant past where I see my own progression and development on this path less traveled.”

Jou’s photographs have been featured in international campaigns by Coca Cola and Lulu Lemon, and can be found on his Tumblr.

To learn more about Jou, please visit his website.

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