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Phyllis Galembo, Professor of Photography at the University of Albany, The State University of New York has been traveling the world in search of the roots of masquerade. Her work can be seen in five published books and a multitude of past solo exhibitions. Her twenty-eight year journey has taken her through North, Central and South America, Europe, and now, her most recent forays have been in the West African nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria. A comprehensive exhibition of her West African work was mounted in 2006 by the Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College in New York and was toured by the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York.

Phyllis Galembo was a featured artist during the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art exhibition entitled Call and Response: Africa to America with artist, Nick Cave in the spring of 2010.

Phyllis Galembo
Masquerade, Gossina Village, Burkina Faso, 2006
10 x 10 inch print on 11 x 14 inch paper
Archival digital print on archival rag paper

Phyllis Galembo never learns the identity of any of the masquerade participants, allowing her to focus on the aesthetics of the costume as relayed through the photograph. Her artistic aim is to collaborate with the sitter, creating a portrait of the costume and sometimes the character that the participant performs. Her use of a medium format film camera allows her to capture every nuance and detail of this vibrant and vital tradition.

This image is courtesy of the artist and Steven Kasher Gallery, New York.