It Is All A Masquerade

Posted on 2010/05/07

New York based photographer Phyllis Galembo has travelled between the Caribbean & West Africa (Benin, Burkino Faso, Nigeria and Sierra Leone) documenting the magnificent costumed world and rituals of  The Masquerade. The male-dominated artform is used as a means to illicit awe, inspiration, fear, obedience or to mark momentous occasions such as death, coming of age etc.

We are able to take a glimpse into this visually charged and creative world through the art of whit and narrative that Galembo uses to frame her subjects.

Dressing in costume has a magical quality to it. It becomes a second skin that can free the human spirit allowing you to assume or project another reality; a notion that goes beyond cultural borders. Upon discovering her work, I felt a random connected disconnectedness apparent with the works of contemporary Swiss artist Olaf Breuning, Design/Art duo Vibskov Emenius to Bernhard Willhelm and as far reaching as Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons.

Comme des Garçons S/S '09, Olaf Breuning - Doubles (2002), Vibskov Emenius - Self Portrait, Bernhard Willhelm S/S '10

Story source: Kindly recommended by London-based artist, Valentin.

[Images via Phyllis Galembo]


Galembo teaches photography at the University of Albany (1978 – Present).

She has published various books including: Dressed for Thrills, 100 Years of Halloween Costumes and Masquerade (2002), Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti (1998), Aso-ebi, Cloth of the Family (1997), Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahai (1993) and Pale Pink (1982).

Her work is available through Steven Kasher Gallery.

Where are Benin, Burkino Faso, Nigeria & Sierra Leone?

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