There is currently an fascinating exhibition at The Walther Collection Project Space in New York City. It is a collection of 90 studio portraits retrieved by photographer Martina Bacigalupo from the Gulu Real Art Studio in Gulu, Uganda. Interestingly enough, the portraits are all faceless.
According to a notice but out by The Walther Collection:
In January 2011, while waiting for her own photographs to be printed at the Gulu Real Art Studio, Bacigalupo encountered an unusual object: an otherwise normal portrait, but with a void where the sitter’s face should be. When she asked Obal Denis, Gulu’s studio photographer, about the cut-out face, he explained that his standard ID photo equipment could only make four prints at a time. If clients wanted just one ID photo, it was easier to take a single large portrait and cut the picture down to show only the face. The rest of the print would be discarded, just as Bacigalupo found it. Having become fascinated by these leftover photographic artifact, Bacigalupo began to collect the faceless prints.
The cut-out faces heighten the viewer’s attention to gesture and detail, particularly the colorful clothes worn by Ugandan women. The exhibition will be on view until 8 Feb 2014.
Gulu is located in northern Uganda, and until recently was the scene of a bloody conflict between government troops and the Lord’s Resistance Army (or LRA). These photograph–of nurses, soldiers, farmers, teachers, businessmen, nuns, students, mothers, children, the young and the old–are an excellent indication that things are returning to normal (or what passes for normal) in northern Uganda.
I will be returning to Gulu next month (Jan 2014).