African mask exhibition by Stephan Gladieu

Mon 10th Jul, 2023

Photo copyright Stephan GladieuMask costumes from the Republic of Bénin and from Kinshasa (DR Congo) are the focus of two series of portraits by the French photographer Stéphan Gladieu (*1969). The two series will be shown together in a special exhibition at the Five Continents Museum, running from 11th July until August 6, 2023. The focus of the show is on the central importance of mask performances in African contexts. They link past and present and address personal and societal challenges.

The series Egungun (2018-2020) deals with ceremonial mask costumes from the Republic of Bénin used in masked dances. The fully veiled dancers, dressed in colorful Egungun robes with numerous applications, act as mediators between the living and the dead: During these ceremonies, the ancestors regularly appear to offer their descendants support and advice in all situations.

The series Homo Détritus (2020-2021) is the result of Gladieu's residency with the multidisciplinary artist collective Ndaku ya, la vie est belle (in English: Life is beautiful) in Kinshasa, initiated by Eddy Ekete. The Congolese artists create mask costumes from found materials such as disposable products, cables, CDs, radio and car parts. With their masked performances on the streets of the capital, they denounce social, political and ecological abuses that they want to draw the attention of residents and authorities to.

About the artist Stéphan Gladieu
Stéphan Gladieu began his career in 1989 as a photojournalist in crisis areas. In his artistic projects, he combines his documentary style with aesthetic research, mixing reality and fiction. With the help of portrait photography, he wants to illustrate the living conditions of a wide variety of people around the world. Gladieu's iconic portrait series are characterized by their colourfulness and austere composition. Apparently staged, they are always dignified, self-contained depictions that show the portrayed in their immediate surroundings.

On the basis of around 50 photographs, Gladieu's Egungun provides a glimpse into a West African secret society and, with Homo Détritus, he points out the effects of the western consumer and throwaway society, which are particularly noticeable in the Global South.

Photo copyright Stephan Gladieu

Article translated from Munich City press release

German Engineering Jobs
Write a comment ...
Post comment