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Haïti dans le monde

A paraître: MASKE de Phyllis Glembo - un livre de photos sur les masque et costumes d'Haïti et d'Afrique

Lasiren 2004 - ©Phyllis Galembo
Lasiren 2004 - ©Phyllis Galembo
Phyllis Galembo’s interest in the masquerade traditions of Africa and its diaspora began twenty five years ago, with her first visit to Nigeria. Since then, she has travelled widely in west and central Africa, and regularly to Haiti, making portraits that document and describe the transformative power of the mask. Her subjects are participants in masquerade events, both traditional African ceremonies and contemporary fancy dress and carnival, all of whom use costume, body paint and masks to create mythic characters – sometimes entertaining and humorous, often dark and frightening, and always powerful and thrilling. Titled after the Haitian Creole word for mask, Maske is the first comprehensive collection of these portraits.
The book features 108 photographs, organised into chapters by country, each introduced with an essay by Galembo including background details to the traditions featured along with details of her personal journey. The book is introduced by Chika Okeke-Agulu, himself a participant in masquerade events during his childhood in Nigeria, who asks questions about the survival and evolution of masquerade traditions in the 21st century. Designed as an object to treasure, the book is a serious contribution to studies of African art, an essay about the transformative power of dress, and a work of vivid artistic imagination.
Phyllis Galembo began photographing the characters and costumes of African masquerade in Nigeria in1985, developing her theme throughout Africa and the Carribean over the following 25 years since including with a Fulbright scholarship. Her previous books include Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahia (1993), Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti (1998) and Dressed for Thrills, 100 Years of Halloween Costumes and Masquerade (2003). She has been exhibited throughout the world, including in solo shows at the International Center of Photography, New York, and the Smithsonian, Washington DC. Galembo is represented by Steven Kasher Gallery, New York, and is Professor of Photography at the State University of New York. She lives in New York City.

Chika Okeke-Agulu earned a Ph.D. in Art History from Emory University, Atlanta. He currently teaches Art History at Princeton University, and has written extensively on contemporary Nigerian art. He has worked on a curator of exhibitions at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, the first Johannesburg Biennale in 1995 and was an academic consultant for the Dokumenta 11 in Kassel. He was associate curator of The Short Century: Colonialism and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945-1994, shown first in 2002 at the Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, and later in Berlin, Chicago, and in New York.

Extrait de l'introduction de Chika Okeke-Agulu:
“Masking is one of the most complex and secretive, yet profoundly important, phenomena in Africa. Western anthropologists were attracted to it during the early 20th century for what it revealed about the social structures, political practices and ritual systems of colonized peoples, while artists and art historians tended to focus on the aesthetics. Since that time, systematic study of masking from broad disciplinary perspectives has yielded much about its religious, political and social functions, but has also enabled us to examine the many dimensions of masking as artistic and theatrical complexes.
“The masks themselves have often been seen as embodied spirits and ancestral beings who return to the world of the living at specific occasions. They are part of a cosmological complex within which life exists as a continuous cycle, perpetually mediated by the action of deities, nature spirits, ancestors and other human beings. Masking entails the donning of the physical mask/costume by (mostly) men, which equally implies the ritual transformation of carrier and mask into an ancestral or metaphysical being. When fully activated, masks become “spirits made tangible”, as Herbert Cole has argued in his book I Am Not Myself: The Art of African Masquerade.

“Masking is involved in the lives of African peoples in a great many ways: chi wara masks participate in planting and harvesting among the Bamana people; glewa masks of the Dan perform juridical functions; lukwakongo masks of the Lega people are used in initiation rites of the elite Bwami association and serve as memorials after their owner’s death; ekpe masks were – before the imposition of a Western-style legal system – the official executioners among the Efik and neighbouring people of southern Nigeria; while gelede masks foster gender and social harmony among the Yoruba.”

Extrait de la critique d'Ann Doran review sur l'exposition qui s'est déroulée au Sepia International, Time Out New York, July 2005:
“Her lush color portraits convey the mystery and range of their rituals, while documenting the pomp and glamour of their costumes, altars and religious objects.
“More recent photographs focus on the transformation of people, rather than of their environments. Masquerade dancers form Cross River, Nigeria, are covered from head to toe in striped and patchwork costumes, with unearthly faces perched on top of their heads, Carnaval performers from Jacmel, Haiti-- like the rakish Chief of the Devil Band, wielding an ax while wearing a black hat, red scarf and gold lamé skirt-- become creatures of fantasy.”
“Galembo's primary interest is the wearer's belief in the power of ritual costume to alter their everyday reality: The Cross River masqueraders become the revived spirits of dead ancestors while Haiti's disenfranchised poor, hidden under face paint and papier-mâché masks, become empowered political satirists.
“As her latest photographs make clear, Galembo wants views to see and appreciate who her subjects are, but more than that, who they believe themselves to be.”

Extrait de la critique de Roberta Smith sur l'exposition qui s'est déroulée au Sepia International, New York Times, July 15, 2005:
“Her images are both portraits and documents, but their combination of dignity, conviction and formal power - especially their vibrant colors and often extraordinary altars - gives them a votive aspect similar to European paintings of saints or kings.
“While quite striking, these images lack the richness and power of the earlier images, in which the subjects seem to have touched every square inch of their settings. But they contribute their share to the revelatory nature of this show. “

Extrait du journal en ligne de David Bryne (, May 6, 2005:
“Wow. I was knocked out.... these are astounding.
“Most of all, the work is, in my opinion, not romantic — some of the stuff is hard, emotional, serious as death and as a result the beauty has depth.“I’ve seen Phyllis work (in Brazil) and she affects a slightly ditzy casual demeanor — that disguises the fact that she knows exactly what she wants and how to get it.”
There’s probably a debt to Irving Penn’s famous series of portraits of “exotic” peoples here — his pix of Peruvian Indians and Mudmen”
“Besides, these subjects are in costume. They have intentionally transformed themselves into something exotic, charged, even frightening. Here is combined a long deep legacy of dress-up for masquerade, for carnival, for possession by the Gods combined with personal creativity and ingenuity. These are not people in their ordinary dress — they are intentionally fantastic, shocking, wild.”

Publication date: October 2010
Retail price: £ 30 / $45
ISBN: 978-1-905712-17-5
Trim size: 215mm x 235 mm (8.5 x 9.5 inches), upright
Extent: 192 pp
Photographs: 107
Binding: Hardback
cover: Akata Masquerade, Eshinjok Village, Nigeria 2004

Mardi 15 Juin 2010
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Catalogue des films / Film Catalog

Editeur et distributeur de DVD indépendant, le Collectif 2004 Images est spécialisé dans la production documentaire haïtienne et présente des films d'auteurs inédits, qu'il diffuse auprès du grand public, des festivals de films et dans le réseau des médiathèques et universités. Il intègre également à son catalogue des oeuvres de réalisateurs étrangers, qui portent un regard singulier sur Haïti. Pour connaître les droits de diffusion et d'acquisition, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter

Independant film publisher and distributor, the Collectif 2004 Images, is specialized on Haitian documentary ; it's large catalog of films includes those made by Haitian authors as well as foreign filmakers baring a singular view on Haiti. Most of our films are available for the general consumer and institutions. Please, check with us for the rights

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