costume and conflict is a series of striking portraits based around a tribe called the herero, based in the southern african nation of namibia. think beautiful outfits from the victorian era with the backdrop of the vast and expansive african desert and you're definitely along the right lines. i have to admit, i was surprised that the thing that struck me the most about these portraits were the intense expressions of the subjects. the significance of these outfits harks back to the time of colonization in namibia (around the 1800s), with the herero tribe embracing the clothing and culture of german missionaries who came to settle on their land.
These portraits are not intended to serve as a conventional documentary of Herero culture. They do not capture the subject in a snapshot of everyday life nor with objects typical of routine or social station. Subjects are removed from their home and intentionally suspended in a confrontational posture. As such, their identity as Herero tribe members is reified in their garments and their gaze, a colour and vibrancy brought into acute focus by the contrasting setting.the exhibtion sadly ends on the 13th of this month (this saturday!) so i would definitely advise going and checking it out on my behalf (or yours) - my only consolation is that a book on the series has been released which will take pride of place on my bookshelf very soon. jim naughten's interview with image source is also worth a look, if only to get an insight into the painstaking work that can go into commissions such as these.
|all images by jim naughten|