During the visit at the Boijmans Van Beuningen’s, between all the dresses who can melt and the one who construct themselves there where an UFO. Three little canvas on the wall of a red room , hidden by a giant costume referencing to the solar system. These three pictures were the work of Phyllis Galembo, the sample of an all life research about the ritual costumes and masks in Africa and the African Diaspora. This work was specially interesting not by the subject or the strong visual effect who drop out of these images but because it’s presented in the exhibition -The future of fashion is now- How can we related the future of fashion and a research about traditional costumes in Africa, who exist from centuries? We can relate this question with the work of Pablo Picasso who has been influenced with the first exhibition of african’s sculptures and masks in France and revolution the art history, but now is it still accurate? What is interesting about these traditional costumes is that they construct a bridge through the past and the future, pieces of art who travel between the ages, but the future of our own civilization is to look back in the past of other’s one or to build our own, now.
Phyllis Galembo is an American artist, fine art photographer. Her work is now related from more than twenty-five years at the African masquerade and ritual clothing. her first travel to africa was in Nigeria in 1985 since she travel through the west and central africa and regularly to Haiti. She document with simple and sober portraits these ritual clothing/art pieces without adding any meanings, keeping them in there own environment. This is a really important part of her work because these costumes are already meaningful in a lot of different themes (religious ceremonies, secret society, rituals, spiritual meanings…) An other big part of her work is to create a relation with the members of the different tribes and then be able to be in contact with these sacred objects. Here we find another interesting relation with the exhibition at the Boijmans Van Beuningen’s. The relation between the creation of a new area for the fashion designer’s and the work of Phyllis, who don’t create a new idea of fashion but put in the podium an ancestral art. The attention of the spectator is fixed on the clothing on the pictures relate to the meaning of the exhibition and not the pictures themselves who are the work of the artist. The projector should’t be pointed on the creator of these art pieces, or is it the collaboration with the photographer who make them important for this theme -The future of fashion is now-
These pictures were presented in the section “The (re)definition of the human figure”. It was the topic who interested me the most in the exhibition and also the one that disappointed me the most. The theme is so large and for me unxploited at all. Only the work of Pyuupiru (Tokio) “Mercurius” and the “Akata Masquerade” from the american photographer was relevant, even if my only wants was to see in real the costumes on the pictures.
The african traditional masquerade costumes are for me a door for a mystical world and also a question about the definition of the human being. These costumes are more than a redefinition of the human figure but a way to escape totally this human aspect, physically and spiritually. And maybe lead us to this question, why i was interested by this part of the exhibition, What is it to be human, Just a concept, are we just animals or is it something spiritual that we should be aware of, or search for?