Social distance in art, a unique photography project by Florian Mehnert and Tamas Detrich, Stuttgart Ballet Artistic Director

by Ballet Magazine
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For more than a year, the phrase social distance has entered in our daily vocabulary. We are not just talking about an expression, but about a new type of behavior. To show the impact on art, photographer Florian Mehnert started a project called “Social Distance Stacks”, in which he collaborated with a symphony orchestra and a ballet company.

“We are all in a certain isolation, in an isolated own bubble, which we are not allowed to get out of,” declared the artist for Reuters agency.

Inspired by this concept, Tamas Detrich, Stuttgart Ballet Artistic Director, invited Florian Mehnert to make a photography session with three couples from classical ballet, in which the partners would be placed in their own PVC balloon, thus marking a year in which the company, known for its dramatic, full-length ballets, has failed to present them on stage due to restrictions.

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In vain Siegfried and Odette, Romeo and Juliet or Giselle and Albrecht yearn for each other, the new rules keep them separated, the same way people around the world are kept from more than 12 months.

”These images express what we are missing most: the entire company together onstage in full length ballets full of passion, close to each other and our audience”, says Tamas Detrich.


“Social Distance Stacks” by Florian Mehnert in collaboration with Tamas Detrich, Stuttgart Ballet Artistic Director

The project is not at all simple, because it was needed a large team. But the real challenge was time. Each person has their’s own bubble which is filled with air and is hermetically sealed. So, there is just a window of 10 to 15 minutes for the photo shoot.

Especially challenging was the photo shoot with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra as they all had to get into their bubble at the same time, the bubbles then had to be filled up with air at the same time, but it was worth the effort according to Mehnert: “Very, very complicated logistics, but a wonderful picture. What is a musician who can’t audition, who can’t play with the orchestra?”, he told Reuters.

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