Martine Roch is pure delight. Let’s love her!
Martine Roch is pure delight. Let’s love her!
In the ever-changing world of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria, one thing that remains consistent is a close connection with their ancestors. The ancestral spirits of the Yoruba are much more than just dead relatives, they play an active role in the daily life of the living. They are sought out for protection and guidance, and are believed to possess the ability to punish those who have forgotten their familial ties. While there are numerous ways the ancestors communicate with the living, one of the most unique is their manifestation on earth in the form of masked spirits known as Egungun.
The Yoruba believe that the transition from the realm of the living to the abode of the dead is not finite. It is just part of what African author Wole Soyinka describes as the “cyclical reality” of the “Yoruba world-view”. Each person comes to this life from the world of the unborn, through the “abyss of transition.” And each will leave again through this archetypal realm, as they make they way to the world of the ancestors.
When a child comes into this world, he or she is said to carry with them aspects of a former ancestor who is reborn in the child. This is not to say they are the ancestor reincarnate, but that there are certain features of their personality and elements of inborn knowledge that come from a previous relative. When the time comes to leave this earth, it is not the end of their existence either. Yoruba scholar BÃ²laji Idowu explains: “Death is not the end of life. It is only a means whereby the present earthly existence is changed for another. After death, therefore, man passes into a ‘life beyond’ which is called ÃˆhÃ¬n-ÃŒwÃ —‘After-Life’”
To be remembered is to be kept alive; to remain within the Sasa period, which is the realm of the living, the unborn and the ancestors.
Once an ancestor has been forgotten, they simply slip into the vast expanse of the Zamani, where the gods, divinities and spirits dwell. As long as an ancestor remains within the Sasa period, they have the ability to help those here on earth, because the living-dead are bilingual: they speak the language of men, with whom they lived until ‘recently’; and they speak the language of the spirits and of God, to Whom they are drawing nearer ontologically. In exchange for being ritually remembered, the living-dead watch over the family and can be contacted for advice and guidance.
Each Egungun may represent a particular person, a family lineage, or a broader concept of the ancestors. When contacted at a family shrine, the Egungun who appears is generally thought to represent the ancestor who is being summoned.
The Egungun is celebrated in festivals, and in family ritual through the masquerade custom. Through drumming and dance, these robed performers are believed to become possessed of the spirits of the ancestors as maifested as a single entity. The Egungun then spiritually clean the community and through exaggerated acting and miming, demonstrate both ethical and amoral behavior that occurred since their last visit.
“To be remembered is to be kept alive.”
* Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou‘s photos led me to read about this subject. Even without their spiritual significance, they are sublime.
The eccentric photographer known as Disfarmer (1884-1959) seemed to be a man determined to shroud himself in mystery. Born Mike Meyers, the sixth of seven children in a German immigrant family, Disfarmer rejected the Arkansas farming world and the family in which he was raised. He even claimed at one point in his life that a tornado had lifted him up from places unknown and deposited him into the Meyers family.
In time Mike expressed his discontent with his family and farming by changing his name to Disfarmer. In modern German “meier” means dairy farmer, and since he thought of himself as neither a “Meyer” nor a “farmer,” Mike Meyer became “dis”- farmer. *
I fucking love him. Even before I knew about his made-up name, I fell in love with him. The photo above just stopped me in my tracks. Unlike Diane Arbus, he doesn’t seem to be unduly drawn to the grotesque. But he does manage to create an almost alarming sense of intimacy.
Explore his work here.
I’m not interested in Royalty, but I love old photographs. Today I came across a forum for people who are obsessed with Royal families and it is a motherlode of vintage photos.
An unexpected bonus is the number of arguments that break out between the people who post there. I wonder if people have to argue in online forums. Maybe it’s just the competitive nature of people who are proud of their expertise.
My husband reads a forum for audiophiles and he says they don’t argue there. I’m surprised that guys who can tell the difference between five different masters of a Jimi Hendrix record can accept each other’s opinions without jockeying for authority. But moderators are there to end discussions, so who knows what would happen if the posters were left alone to boast about their rare Japanese boxed sets of obscure Eric Clapton demos.
Check out “Alexander Palace Time Machine” for amazing photos and petty arguments! Start here.
* According to a forum regular, here are the Royals who are worst at being Royals:
Prince Charles of Great Britian.
Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall.
Prince Harry of Great Britian.
Princess Anne of Great Britian.
Crown Prince Philip of Belgium.
Prince Joachim of Denmark.
Prince Albert of Monaco.
Victor-Emmanuel of Italy, Duke of Savoye.
Marina-Doria of Italy, Duchess of Savoye.
Goodbye to Dad
Two walkers, December 2009
High School graduation, June 2011
Max and Pico
and finally this photo by Antanas Sutkus. I can’t describe how much I love it. It is so exquisitely tender! It sums up everything for me. I want to kiss the little child and to reassure her. But I know she is me.
This photo in the Daily Mail is accompanied by the tragic story of twins who have suffered from anorexia for twenty years. It’s a disturbing story that touches on sibling rivalry, parental enabling, and the failure of all mechanisms to heal the victims of our culture’s obsession with beauty.
If you read the story, you’ll notice images on the right-hand side of the page, mostly celebrities chosen by the Daily Mail to ridicule for their weight gain, plastic surgery or cankles. The message is clear: There is no escape from the search for physical perfection. No escape and no winning either.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a photography exhibit called Beauty and Culture that examines the many ways that images work to influence our concept of beauty. The exhibit featured a short documentary that was truly devastating. Five year old beauty queens, cancer survivors, ancient women still trying to look young, and a history of evolving thinness in fashion models…it leaves you sickened by the shit we go through to measure up to a stupid restrictive ideal of beauty.
The documentary points out that only 2 percent of women are built like fashion models. Why do these models have so much power over us?!
You know the “It Gets Better” campaign for gays? We also need a campaign for women that says:YOU LOOK FINE! Maybe if we were reminded 100 times a day that we are okay as we are, we could forget about the size of our butts.
When we left the exhibit, my friend and I looked for somewhere to have coffee. We found a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, where they display calorie counts with their pastries. Naturally, I freaked out and ordered a reduced-calorie muffin, because no matter what I know intellectually, deep down in my psyche I’m an unlovable fat pig.
I would like to thank Vogue, Glamour, the fashion industry and most of all my dad, who loved to drive around shouting “Look at the fat ass on that one!” I can relate to those poor emaciated twins, even though I’m a normal size. Accepting yourself can be a lifelong project.
I am hopelessly addicted to tumblr.
I tell myself it’s a “better” addiction than others I’ve acquired since I learned to use a computer. It’s better than online shopping and it’s better than twitter. The only problem is that like all addictions, it just creates an insatiable appetite. I tell myself that I’ll stop looking as soon as I find one beautiful image. But then I need to find just one more.
In the course of this endless hunger for images, I have seen more tits than I’ve seen in the last 57 years. There are tits everywhere! Vintage tits, fashion-spread tits, young tits, big tits, sagging tits, naughty tits, innocent tits, no one seems to tire of tits. I’m not offended; I’m just not as interested in tits as most of tumblr is.
Searching google for a photo by Tina Mondotti, I came across the beautiful image above. To my eyes, it is an exquisite expression of tenderness. I posted it on my tumblr but not ONE SINGLE PERSON has reblogged it or even “liked” it!
I’m so disappointed that no one else was moved by this picture. Are tits only good without proximity to babies?
Because it is my avocation to get mad and start arguments, when I came upon a photo of a woman sticking a needle in her arm, on tumblr, I wrote to the blogger and politely complained. I said the picture could be a trigger for recovering addicts, and that addiction should not be romanticized. She replied politely that she was against censorhip and couldn’t be responsible for triggers. I wrote to the blogger from whom she’d reblogged the photo. She replied politely too, but maintained that the photo was “social commentary.”
Both bloggers pointed out that heroin addiction is a part of life and that you can’t just show nice things. Both denied that the artful picture of an attractive woman shooting dope was in any way romanticizing addiction.
But wait! The “part of life” argument is kind of fatuous. Vomit, amputation, and car accidents are part of life. All kinds of distressing things are part of life but you don’t see many arty picture of them. The image of an addict shooting up is a powerful one that has been around for a long time, and it doesn’t show the Part of Life that comes after it: The abscesses, the arrests, the death, the funeral, the sobbing friends.
I resent these images, because they don’t tell the truth. They are a siren song to young people, just as cigarette ads once were.
I know it’s too much to ask that everyone stop admiring nice black and white photos of addicts shooting dope. But I’d at least like everyone to admit that these images are romantic. They depict a “transgressive” act, nicely lit and composed, that represents mavericky behavior…even rock and roll behavior, one might say. OF COURSE it is romanticizing an illness that in real life is tragic, sordid, cruel and lamentable on every level!
It’s not art, any more than the images of bottled fetuses used by anti-choice groups is art. It’s the perpetuation of a stupid and dangerous myth. Or maybe it is art, but it’s political, even if one insists otherwise.
I am not in favor of censorship. But I post images selectively.
What are your thoughts?
I love my Tumblr! It is nothing but beautiful or evocative images that I wanted to keep in one place. No 90s, no irony, no pictures of dead people in bathtubs, or tattooed bikers or teenagers wearing Indian feather headdresses from etsy.
Go look if you feel like it! http://sisterwolf.tumblr.com/
Looking for photos by Serge Lutens, I came across a beautiful blog, Strawberige. It’s a wonderland of lovely images. No blogger crap, just pleasure.
Then, I ended up at a blog called Fashion Heroines, by someone who says she loves being a woman and hates feminism. Hmm. The photos are arresting, like the ones of Liu Wen below:
Feminism sheminism. If it transports me from the hell of Sarah Palin and sentences that begin with “Umm,” I am grateful.