FINE ARTS

Mexico, Masks & Rituals

D.A.P. May 2019. 196p. photos by Phyllis Galembo. ISBN 9781942185574. $45. PHOTOG
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Photographer Galembo (b. 1952) has traveled the world (Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica) documenting dancers in indigenous ritual masks and costumes. For the last ten years, she has pursued her project across Mexico, capturing “the aesthetic and cultural value of indigenous and Mestizo popular culture,” as exemplified in ritual artifacts, writes Sergio Rodriguez-Blanco (Iberoamericana Univ., Mexico City) in a dual-language Spanish and English scholarly essay accompanying the photographs. The images, organized by festival (e.g., the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe; the Festival of Semana Santa) and location (Puebla; Nayarit), show dancers posed against plain backdrops, all the more effectively displaying the vivid colors and shapes of their costumes and the personalities of the characters they portray. It would be easy to overlook the acknowledgements section at the very end, the only place where the photographer’s own voice appears here, but it should not be missed.
VERDICT Students of ethnography, dance, and even costume design or fashion will value this title. The intensely colorful images, aided by the attractive graphic design, will captivate photography enthusiasts.

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