“The Compassionate Eye: Women Behind the Lens” Palm Beach exhibition

The Compassionate Eye: Women Behind the Lens

11/28/2015 – 12/9/2015

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher are included in a group exhibition at Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach, FL, along with nine other female photographer luminaries, including Margaret Bourke-White, Ruth Bernhard and Imogen Cunningham. Providing an overview of the critical contributions that women have made to medium of photography, “The Compassionate Eye: Women Behind the Lens” celebrates the unique ways women have utilized the camera from the early twentieth century and beyond.

The six included photographs by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher, are the result of a long, enduring and deeply respectful relationship with African tribal peoples.  Their work preserves and presents the power, complexity and celebration found in African tribal life.

 

 

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“African Twilight” work-in-progress

Masked Pende dancer, DR CongoDrawing upon the last fourteen years of their extensive African fieldwork, and driven by the awareness that traditional cultures are changing fast, Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher are working to complete the final two volumes of their ongoing record of African ceremonies. Included will be coverage of remaining traditional ceremonies in thirteen African cultures not included in their previous African Ceremonies, Vols. I & II. They left many of the most inaccessible countries until last and it was often an extraordinary effort to gain access into those remote areas and to travel through them. AFRICAN TWILIGHT is scheduled for publication in 2017.

“There are still fantastic pockets all across Africa, each with their own original cultures, little touched by the outside world, rich in tradition and highly individual in creative form. It’s been like walking through a doorway onto the distant past.”  Carol & Angela

Pictured above are a small sample of slides from their ethnographic field studies under review and consideration – only another 85,000 to go in their old school style editing process.

African ceremonial dancers

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Spirit Masks of Burkina Faso #1

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher continued their African fieldwork attending the 2015 Festival of Masks in Burkina Faso, gathering material for new volumes to expand their magnum opus African Ceremonies (2 volumes, Published: Harry N. Abrams, 1999).

The Festival of Masks in Burkina Faso is one of the greatest masquerade festivals we have ever seen. Masked dancers gather from across West Africa, from Ivory Coast to Mali, from Benin to Burkina Faso, to showcase for each other the masquerades of their communities. In this part of Africa it is traditionally believed that life is governed by the spirits of the ancestors, the animals and nature that surrounds them. The masks channel the power of these spirits, making it possible for the dancers to give these incredible performances.”

This is the first in a series of short videos of dancers from the Festival:

Leaf Masks – Representing the God of Springtime, the dances of these Bwa leaf masks burst with energy and lust for life! They are made fresh every morning with leaves from the sacred forest and, at the end of each day, they are burned. © Beckwith/Fisher 2015

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Maasai Olympics 2014: African Warrior Culture in Transition

Beckwith & Fisher photograph theMaasai Olympics 2014

Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith are completing their sixteenth book on African Ceremonies. African Twilight will not only feature some of the last great traditional ceremonies in Africa, but will also capture ancient cultures in transition

For Carol and Angela, who have photographed Maasai ceremonies for forty years, including the warrior lion hunt, the Maasai Olympics of 2014 was an extraordinary ceremony of transition not to be missed. At the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, history was being made — instead of hunting for lions, Maasai warriors, in full regalia, were hunting for trophies.

David Rudisha, Olympic gold medalist (London 2012) in the 800 meters and world record holder, is Patron of the Maasai Olympics, the world’s most famous Maasai, and a noble warrior himself.

During the three days they spent with David, Angela and Carol were deeply impressed by his extraordinary character, dedication, and humility. Devoted to his people and their future, David has chosen to be a role model enabling young warriors to follow in his path.

The Maasai Olympics really touched Carol and Angela’s hearts. Seeing young warriors direct their physical prowess away from lion hunting to competing in sports was inspirational — the essence of the great Maasai culture was being preserved while, at the same time, being adapted to the twenty–first century.

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Modern Cuba and the diaspora of an ancient African religion

Continuing their lifework of documenting traditional African culture, Carol and Angela traveled to Cuba in 2014 for a fieldwork study of modern Voodoo, a diaspora of a Yoruban religion originally brought from West Africa during the slave trade.

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“We went to Cuba to explore the Yoruba religion of Voodoo which was carried to Cuba by the trans-Atlantic slave trade from Benin and Nigeria, starting in the 16th century. In Cuba today, we find  these ancient Yoruba beliefs and rituals practiced in a religion known as Santeria. Having studied Voodoo in West Africa for over two decades, we were fascinated by the diaspora of an African religion which protected itself by appearing to merge with Christianity, but in actuality practiced its secret rituals in privacy.  It is believed that 60 percent of the Cuban population have their roots in Africa. We were moved to realize that this vital religion which traveled across the Atlantic many generations ago has found a protected home so far from its origins.”  Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher

 

Beckwith & Fisher photograph Cuban Voodoo cutlure, 3 BF_Cuba_11-12-13Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher tour Cuba in vintage car

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New Beckwith & Fisher online Dinka exhibtion

Announcing Carol Beckwith’s & Angela Fisher’s exhibition
Dinka: Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan
online @ Google’s Cultural Institute

A timely new online exhibition, curated from Beckwith’s & Fisher’s renowned book (“Dinka: Legendary Cattle Keepers of Sudan” published 2010 by Rizzoli) on the Dinka people of South Sudan, captures the traditional culture of Africans whose world has been rapidly transformed and is again threatened by war.

Our deepest wish for the future is that peace be maintained between the north and the south of Sudan, making it possible for the Dinka to follow their traditional way of life and maintain their deep-rooted human values. Although there has been such decimation of the lands and the people, we draw hope from the wisdom of an early 20th century Dinka prophet: ‘Piny nhom abi riak mac – the land may be spoiled yet it will remain intact.’ This saying reveals dignity in the face of catastrophe – the possibility that both war and peace, good and bad fortune, all offer the chance of renewal.” ~ Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher

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Affirmation for Beckwith & Fisher photography of the Dinka people

Recently there has been a great deal of discussion about photography of African cultures in general and the work of Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher in particular, especially their photography of the Dinka people of South Sudan. Here are some interesting commentaries and affirmations:

 

Professor Donald Johanson, who discovered the “Lucy” skeleton in Ethiopia 40 years, had this to say about their work:

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher’s dedication to recording African ceremonies has produced a vitally important photographic record of human creativity that is rapidly vanishing. Their deep personal involvement and compassion for the endless imagination in African tribal diversity has given peoples around the globe an insight in to the sophistication of these cultures not only through their photographs, but also with the informative texts that put the photos into a wider cultural context.

“Anyone who personally knows these two chroniclers of the beauty, sensitivity, and ingenuity that is part of the African majesty will understand Beckwith and Fisher’s deep thoughtfulness to celebrate and not exploit these tribal groups. Nudity is an important element in many African cultures and not considered a form of eroticism or vulgarity. It is the limited sense of cultural relativity among western observers that leads to such notions.”

Unlike tourists who casually visit African tribal peoples with their own preconceived notions of exploitation, these two photographers bring an understanding and admiration of the artistry that reflects the true nature of the specific beliefs of those who are being photographed.“

 

Sanna Arman, a student in International Commercial Law at the University of Surrey, U.K. , and a South Sudanese hailing from the Dinka ethnic group, wrote in an article for Face2faceAfrica.com:

“They show, in such a captivating and truthful way, a culture that exists, a culture that is part of our society, a culture that we should embrace, and a culture that we should preserve. These photographs, even at complete face value, with no background understanding of the photographers, embrace beauty, as opposed to looking down on it.”

 

Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher:

“When we get to know and appreciate a group of people, which we share with the world through our books and images, we care about what happens to them. We care deeply about the 150 ethnic groups with whom we have lived and worked – we have dedicated our lives to sharing their powerful beliefs, rituals, lifestyles and cultural traditions with the world at large.

We want future generations of Africans to know where they came from and what their grandparents believed. Over 40% of what we have recorded no longer exists, a tragic loss, diminishing the richness and diversity of the human panorama. We hope to leave our archive of the cultural heritage of Africa, 40 years in the making, and still ongoing, to future generations who care about who we are as human beings, where we have come from, and where we are heading”

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Gallery Exhibitions on Two Coasts

Continuing through the holiday season, Carol and Angela have ongoing exhibitions of their photographs at two galleries.

Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach, Florida is presenting “Portals to the Human Spirit”, featuring Beckwith’s and Fisher’s work along with several other artists, open through Christmas. Located: 332 Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Florida, (561) 805-9550.

A panaroma view of Angela & Carol at Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach

The House of Photographic Arts (HOPA) in San Juan Capsitrano is hosting “African Passion” through January 4, 2014. Reservations are necessary. Please call 949-429-2220. 27184 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Carol & Angela at their exhibition at HOPA Gallery (House of Photographic Art

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African Passion opens at HOPA

California Exhibition Opening

 

Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher

AFRICAN PASSION: Painted Bodies and Beyond

at The House of Photographic Art (HOPA)

 

Opening to benefit the Bowers Museum

Thursday, November 14, 2013, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

 

View a collection of startling images in brilliant colors from their 35 years work across Africa. Join the artists for an hor d’oeuvres and wine reception.

 

Reservations are necessary. Please call 949-429-2220.

The exhibition will run from November 14, 2013 — January 4, 2014

 

House of Photographic Arts

27184 Ortega Highway, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

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New Google Site Presents African Ceremonies: Passages Exhibition

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Voodoo Priest at Seko Healing Shrine, Togo
In their renowned photographic exhibition African Ceremonies: Passages, Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have recorded the rich texture of ceremonial life in Africa ranging from the naming of babies and the courtship of young adults to displays of royal wealth and power, healing practices and funeral ceremonies.  The exhibition presents a selection of striking images illustrating the vital role of rites of passage in Africa marking the progression of individuals and communities throughout the universal cycle of life from birth to death.

 

Beckwith and Fisher photographed sacred ceremonies and traditions little known to the outside world. There are no other artists who have captured so many images of authentic and ancient ritual practices.  African Ceremonies: Passages features photographs of the cycle of life in Africa, as well as the spiritual beliefs of its societies. The photographs are grouped throughout the exhibition according to birth and initiation, courtship and marriage, royalty and power, seasonal rites, beliefs and worship, and finally death and passage to the spirit world.

 

Beckwith and Fisher photographed sacred ceremonies and traditions little known to the outside world. There are no other artists who have captured so many images of authentic and ancient ritual practices. African Ceremonies: Passages features photographs of the cycle of life in Africa, as well as the spiritual beliefs of its societies. The photographs are grouped throughout the exhibition according to birth and initiation, courtship and marriage, royalty and power, seasonal rites, beliefs and worship, and finally death and passage to the spirit world.

 

The photographers’ non-profit foundation, African Ceremonies, Inc, in conjunction with The Art Project, part of the Google Cultural Institute website, is presenting the exhibition online. African Ceremonies is dedicated to the preservation of African tribal traditions through the photographic documentation of ceremonies and customs, thereby ensuring that the strength and essence of African culture is preserved for the history of mankind and for the education of future generations. The Google Cultural Institute is dedicated to creating technology that helps the cultural community to bring their art, archives, heritage sites and other material online. The aim is to increase the range and volume of cultural material  that is available for people to explore online and in doing so, democratize access to it and preserve it for future generations. To date, more than 6 million viewers have explored the GCI site and its extensive cultural resources.
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