Fine Art Photography Daily

Photolucida: David Pace: Sur La Route and Market Day

Today’s post is part of several weeks dedicated to work seen at Photolucida

David Pace brought several series to Photolucida, captured in West Africa.  David is the resident director of Santa Clara University’s study abroad program in West Africa and spends up to ten weeks each year with students in the small country of Burkina Faso, where he has been photographing annually since 2007. I am featuring two of his series, Sur La Route and Market Day, both terrific portrait projects that celebrate the people he encounters.

David received the 2011 Work-In-Process Prize from Daylight Magazine and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His work was included in the 2012 biennial Anthology at the Southeast Museum of Photography. His solo exhibition Burkina Faso: Night and Day appeared at the Griffin Museum of Photography in 2013. Bricks: Photographs by David Pace opens at 511 Gallery in New York City in September 2013. Pace’s photographs of rural Africa have appeared in Lens Culture, aCurator.com and Daylight Magazine.

Sur La Route 
Bereba is a rural village in the small West African country of Burkina Faso. I have been living and working there for two months every year since 2007. Each morning my friends and neighbors travel to their farms outside the village on foot, bicycles, motor cycles or in carts drawn by mules or oxen. In the evening they return along a dirt path that passes beside my front door. At twilight, as the harsh equatorial sun softens, I linger on the roadside. The villagers stop and proudly pose for portraits as they make their way home. The stark, sub-Saharan landscape provides a simple backdrop in the fading light.

 In the western media, Africa is often portrayed either as a continent of war, famine, corruption and disease, or as an exotic place for safaris and tribal rituals. The simple beauty of everyday life is seldom seen. The Sur La Route series presents contemporary village life in a positive and realistic light, and emphasizes the strength and dignity of the people of Bereba.

 
Market Day
Bereba is a rural village in the small West African country of Burkina Faso. I have been living and working there for two months every year since 2007.
 
The Market Day portrait series began as a simple experiment inspired by the great Malian photographer Seydou Keita. In his formal black and white studio portraits he would often hang a busy, patterned backdrop behind his sitters who normally wore elaborate garments with floral or geometric designs. I have always been intrigued by this bold layering of pattern on pattern so different from traditional Western studio portraiture. I wanted to see if compelling portraits in this style could be made in color.

Although I photograph on the street and not in the studio, it was easy to find the colorful backgrounds I had in mind in Bereba on market day. In their booths merchants hang bolts of colorful textiles, sheets, blankets and fabrics of every color. My practice is to find a suitable background with even, soft lighting and wait for my subjects to appear. The market is always crowded with villagers dressed in their finest clothes so I seldom have long to wait.

Although I photograph on the street and not in the studio, it was easy to find the colorful backgrounds I had in mind in Bereba on market day. In their booths merchants hang bolts of colorful textiles, sheets, blankets and fabrics of every color. My practice is to find a suitable background with even, soft lighting and wait for my subjects to appear. The market is always crowded with villagers dressed in their finest clothes so I seldom have long to wait.

Beyond the purely formal concerns in this work I am interested in the blending of European and American clothing with traditional West African fabrics.  This demonstrates the extent to which globalization permeates even remote regions of Africa.

want to portray contemporary village life in a positive and realistic light, emphasizing the beauty and dignity of the people of Bereba.

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