Phyllis Galembo has travelled all over the globe to sites of ritual masquerade. In Africa, the Caribbean, and now Mexico, she captures cultural performances with a subterranean political edge. Using a direct, unaffected portrait style, Galembo captures her subjects informally posed but often strikingly attired in traditional or ritualistic dress. Attuned to a moment’s collision of past, present and future, Galembo finds the timeless elegance and dignity of her subjects.
Masking is a complex, mysterious, and profound tradition in which the participants transcend the physical world and enter the spiritual realm. In her vibrant images, Galembo exposes an ornate code of political, artistic, theatrical, social and religious symbolism and commentary. Galembo highlights the creativity of the individuals morphing into a fantastical representation of themselves, having cobbled together materials gathered from the immediate environment to idealize their vision of mythical figures. While still pronounced in their personal identity, the subject’s intentions are rooted in the larger dynamics of religious, political and cultural affiliation. Establishing these connections is a hallmark of Galembo’s work.
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