THE FASCINATING PHOTOGRAPHY OF PHYLLIS GALEMBO

Beautiful photography is as exciting to me as a well done painting, especially when the subject matter is exotic.  I came across the photography of Phyllis Galembo in the house of a client of mine and

fell instantly in love with her work.  My client, was just as excited about Galembo’s work as I was and I couldn’t wait to find out more about this talented photographer.

 

 

Galembo  specializes in photographing what is known as “ritual masquerade.” She has traveled throughout  Africa, South America and the Caribbean in order to discover local ritual masquerade ceremonies and capture the participants on film.

 

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Wikipedia defines ritual masquerade in the following way: “A masquerade ceremony (or masked ritefestivalprocession or dance) is a cultural or religious event involving the wearing of masks.”  But these rituals or festivals or whatever you want to call them are much more complex than this definition implies. In these ceremonies the participants don elaborate costumes and headgear and makeup which all have some deep symbolism relating to historical, religious, cultural and social events in their communities.

 

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These performances are highly physical and mysterious with the symbolism of the costumes significant primarily to the participants.  The participants usually perform a complex and intriguing “dance” which frequently transcends from the physical world to the spiritual world as them stomp and spin and move their bodies in meaningful motions depicting a story relevant to their family or community.

 

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Her photographs are not taken during the ceremonies but are portraitures of her subjects casually posing for a photograph. This technique makes their costumes appear all the more powerful and otherworldly. The masks and makeup convert the subjects behind them into ethereal, almost supernatural  beings and Galembo has managed to capture this essence perfectly.

 

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The costumes depicted in Galembo’s photographs are truly fascinating and make extremely interesting photographic art. I  highly recommend the larger sizes, which make the subject of the photograph practically come alive in the room. Colorful and exciting, they make for marvelous and unique additions to the walls of your home.

 

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Interestingly enough, I wrote a post awhile back  about a terrific experience I had in Grand Central Station watching a dance group performance called “Heard”  which was  choreographed by Nick Cave (see post.) If you check that post out I am sure you would probably agree that Cave took his inspiration from some ritual masquerade event, as his “wild-and-crazy-costumes” are in total sync with the fantastical costumes in Galembo’s photographs.

 

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 Galembo has had her work included in several public and private collections. If you are interested in finding out more about Galembo and these wonderful photographs you can contact the Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City.

 

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Ciao, ciao ’til next time!