Cloth of the Family

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Phyllis Galembo was born and raised in New York City.  She is most well known for her documentation of ritual masquerade in Africa and the Caribbean. Masking is a complex, mysterious and profound tradition in which the participants transcend the physical world and enter the spiritual realm.

Using a direct, unaffected portrait style, Galembo captures her subjects informally posed but often strikingly attired in traditional or ritualistic dress. Galembo’s portraiture illuminates the transformative power of costume and ritual.

‘Cloth of the Family’ is one of her lesser known series, but one of our favourites. It’s a series of portraits taken in Nigeria on New Years Eve 1991-94 where families gathered for special occasions in their very best attire.