Martin Vorwerk

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»Dancing the Transit«
series of 50 portait photographs
of Makishi masquerades

100 x 66,5 cm

2014-16

 

Shot during two field trips to North-Western Zambia for my current thesis research. It is focused on invention, innovation and transformation of Makishi masquerade characters in Zambia, Angola & the D.R. of Congo.

likishi lya radio (mask of the radio)

Western / North Western province, Zambia 2016.

 

update: This masquerade is currently on view at the Museum für Völkerkunde (Ethnological Museum) Dresden, Germany.

In many places around the border region of Angola, Sambia and the D.R. Congo the transition from child to manhood is still marked through complex initiation rituals widely known as “mukanda”. It involves the symbolic death of a child and its reincarnation as a young man in society. The mukanda can last up to twelve months and is an education in history, traditions,

and cultural values. During this period of liminality the spirits of the ancestors emerge from the graveyard to teach and protect the young initiants. These spirits are manifested in shape of the Makishi masquerade which includes about one hundred different characters.

Makishi performances can be seen as a form of communicative memory, an ephemeral archive. Important historical persons as well as memorable incidents are performed through a kind of dance theatre and therefore collectively memorized and assimilated. As recent character inventions like the mask of the air plane, the radio or the radio tower show, the Makishi masquerades accompany and negotiate not only biographical but social transition periods, too.

likishi lya ndeke (mask of the airplane)

Western / North Western province, Zambia 2014.

likishi lya tawa (mask of the signal tower)

North Western province, Zambia 2016.

likishi lya chikuza (symbol of fertility & hunting luck, master of the circumcision rite)

Western / North Western province, Zambia 2016.

likishi lya kapalu (mask of a troublemaker)

North Western province, Zambia 2016.

likishi lya kateya (mask of an aristocrat)

North Western province, Zambia 2016.

likishi lya chindele (mask of the white man)

North Western province, Zambia 2016.

likishi lya mbatafly (mask of the butterfly)

North Western province, Zambia 2016.

likishi lya chambamba (mask of the fruit bat)

Western province, Zambia 2016.

12 photographs of this series have been exhibited from the 30th of June until the 6th of August 2017 at the Galerie Bohai Hannover, Germany.

You can find pictures of the exhibition which included the complete radio masquerade here >>>.

 

Feel free to get in touch with me for further exhibition projects.

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intersections of perception

Martin Vorwerk

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