Phyllis Galembo's Thrilling Masquerade Photographs From Around the World

I am truly fond of Phyllis Galembo's work. Galembo is a photographer and professor of Art at the University at Albany, State University of  New York. She has exhibited extensively in museums, most recently Call and Response in collaboration with Nick Cave at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art in conjunction with Spoleto Festival USA. Her work can also be seen in five published books, Aso-ebi: Cloth of the Family, Divine Inspiration from Benin to Bahia, Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti, Dressed for Thrills: 100 years of Halloween Costumes and Masquerade; and Maske.

For over two decades, Phyllis Galembo has documented cultural and religious traditions in Africa and the African Diaspora. Traveling widely throughout western and central Africa, and regularly to Haiti, her subjects are participants in masquerade events -- traditional African ceremonies and contemporary fancy dress and carnival -- who use costume, body paint and masks to create mythic characters. Sometimes entertaining and humorous, often dark and frightening, her portraits document and describe the transformation power of the mask.

The exhibition Phyllis Galembo: Maske features recent photographs by the artist, including sixteen large-scale color prints of African and Haitian figures in indigenous masquerade costume. The exhibit also coincides with the release of Galembo's new book, Maske (Boot, 2010).

Exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery, NY, March 2 - April 2, 2011 Opening reception and book signing, March 2, 6-8 pm
Four Children in Fancy Dress, Nobles Masquerade,
Winneba, Ghana, 2009
Two in Fancy Dress with Pointed Hats, Tumus
Masquerade Group, Winneba Ghana, 2010
Panther, Dodo Masquerade, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, 2009
Kambulo and Kapada, Makishi Masquerade, Kaoma, Zambia, 2007
Fancy Dress and Rasta, Nobles Masquerade Group, Winneba, Ghana, 2009
Water Buffalo Devil, Red Indians, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2008
Ghost and Bull, Dodo Masquerade, Bobo-Dioulasso,
Burkina Faso, 2009
Janus Mask, Nkim Village, Nigeria, 2005
Atal Masquerade, Emanghabe Village, Nigeria, 2004
Agbago (Big Horse Who Comes in the Night) Masquerade,
Mountain Cut, Sierra Leon, 2009
Atam Masquerader, Alok Village, Cross River, Nigeria, 2004
All images courtesy of Steven Kasher Gallery/Phyllis Galembo