On View / Power of the mask

Phyllis Galembo's portraits document masquerade traditions that are practised throughout West and Central Africa.


The startling photography of Phyllis Galembo has its origins in a visit twenty-five years ago to Nigeria, where she first saw the ceremonial masks and costumes worn for special occasions by people throughout Africa and its diaspora. These costumes are incredibly elaborate, often colorful, and—very often—so uncomfortable-looking as to seem difficult to wear for an extended period. 


Despite this, her subjects appear relaxed and assured in their postures. Galembo’s technique is equally straightforward—and very powerful.Portraits by Phyllis Galembo is on view at Nina Freudenheim Gallery, 140 North Street, September 9–October 19, with an opening reception on September 9, 6–8 p.m.


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