Friday, 31 December 2010

I dream of Madam Peripetie

As the year draws to a close, my thoughts drift towards those whom I find most inspiring.  One almost feels privileged to have an insight to Madame Peripetie's 'Dream Sequence' world. And if one must see the year out, at least see it out with a bang!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Propriety and Danger

When women put on a face, they continue to express ideas of naturalness and artifice, authenticity and deception, propriety and danger, modernity and tradition.  Making up remains a gesture bound to perceptions of self and body, the intimate and the social - a gesture rooted in women's everyday lives.
Peiss, K. Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture, Metropolitan Books, 1998

The Girls

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Indulging my awareness

Matthew Black has documented the outrageous and provocative social activist group, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  Members of this international Sisterhood take on the identities of 21st Century nuns, dedicated to “promulgating universal joy, expiating stigmatic guilt, and serving the community.” Far more than street performers or typical drag queens, they use the art of drag to raise awareness for the LGBT community and AIDS/human rights activism. In Black’s engrossing, public-private portraits of Sisters in the Seattle chapter, he brings to light the deeper, universal question we each ask ourselves — who am I really? Visibly capturing the Sisters’ transformation between various personas, Black celebrates the universal theme of identity and challenges us to engage at multiple visual and psychological levels.

Black chose to take studio portraits of the Sisters in both their private and public personas to show that there is more to the Sisters than just their face paint and costumes. Upon seeing a plain-clothes portrait next to the Sister portrait, it’s hard not to wonder which identity is the real one.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Corpse Paint

A style of black-and-white makeup, used mainly by black metal bands during live concerts and photo shoots. The makeup is used to intensify the bands' imagery of evil, inhumanity, and corpse-like decay. It is most commonly used just on the face, but also on arms and torso. Sometimes it involves other colours than black and white.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Death becomes her.

It is clear from both the archaeological remains and the artistic and literary record that the Egyptians’ hair was not always their own, a choice dependent on personal preference, wealth and  social status and influenced by the fashions which inevitably changed over several millennia. The wigs and hair extensions worn as items of both daily and funerary attire combined the desire for  ornate and impressive styles with the practicalities of cleanliness. In Egypt’s extreme climate, the  coolest option of a shaven or cropped head could be shielded from the harmful effects of the sun with a wig, a choice preferable to a simple linen head cloth as it would allow body heat to escape  through its net-like foundation base while keeping the head protected. The removal of the natural hair and subsequent adoption of wigs was also a hygienic measure and greatly reduced the healthrisks associated with parasitic infestation, particularly head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis).

Mummy wigs, are just a part of the cosmetic adornment found on Egyptian mummified remains, used by men and women and changing in style in the various historical eras.  The cosmetic preparations that were part of the final stages of embalming included the application of gold leaf, the painting of the face, and the restoration of the eyebrows. Wigs were placed on some corpses, and they were dressed in their robes of state and given their emblems of divine kingship. In some periods the bodies were painted, the priests using red ochre for male corpses and yellow for the women.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Phyllis Galembo - Masks

Phyllis Galembo
Baby Dance of Etikpe, Cross River, Nigeria, 2004
Transformed into something exotic, charged, even frightening, the masks photographed by Phyliss Galembo combine a legacy of masquerade, for carnival or for possession by the Gods combined with personal creativity and ingenuity. The portraits are not of people in their ordinary dress — they are intentionally unearthly, fantastic, shocking and wild while documenting the power of the mask.

Phyllis Galembo, Okpo Masquerade, Calabar South, Nigeria, 2005