Fine Art Photography Daily

Phyllis Galembo: West African Masquerade

You have just about a week to catch Phyllis Galembo‘s amazing images at the Stephen Kasher Gallery in New York. It’s another great project to come out of Africa, full of exotic and colorful forms of self expression, with none of our western self consciousness. Galembo has an eye for capturing rituals and costumery in Africa, the Carribean, and South Africa. The image below is from an earlier body of work and was captured in Haiti.

“Since 1997 Galembo has been photographing masked revelers in ritual performances. Galembo has made over twenty trips to sites of ritual masquerade in Africa and the Caribbean. She has repeatedly photographed Carnaval in Jacmel, Haiti before and during the Aristide debacle, capturing annual performances with a subterranean political edge. She has traveled repeatedly to West Africa to witness annual rituals that involve extraordinarily creative masking and costuming.

Galembo brings her lights and cameras to scenes of public display. She chooses existing local background: a wall of a home, a tree. She coaxes poses from her subjects as they proceed with their ritual business. She reveals creativities of fashion and performance that combine traditional and modern materials, symbol, and gestures. Her subjects may spend a year gathering materials and sewing elaborate costumes worn a single day. Or they spontaneously paint their jeans and bodies and join posses of play and protest.”

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