Moving Spirit, Spirituality in Southern Africa is one of four books by Paul Weinberg available for sale at the Kalk Bay Modern. Images from the books are currently on display in the Here and There exhibition which runs until 31 October.
Moving Spirit is a narrative and visual journey exploring the various spiritual traditions of Southern Africa both new and ancient. Intertwined is Paul Weinberg’s own spiritual voyage, a subtle element that gives this work an insight beyond traditional journalism.
His long-standing relationship with the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa allows him to share distressing insights into the predicament they face, stranded between two cultures. He records their attempts to reconcile the traditional with the western, capturing moments of spiritual unity and transcendence as well as the violence, pain and anger that are part of this country’s legacy.
His explorations are not limited to indigenous peoples or age-old tradition however. Southern Africa has one of the most cosmopolitan populations in the world providing us with extremely rich cultural, religious and spiritual customs.
His beautiful and moving photographs document, amongst other things, a Hindu firewalking ceremony in Pietermaritzburg, a Tibetan monk making a sand mandala in Durban, a Wiccan Spring celebration, an Agape group-therapy session led by Stan Lipschitz in Mamelodi township and a Bahai service – a new religion that draws on many faiths believing in unity as a foundation.
The photographs are accompanied by an engaging account of Paul’s time spent exploring these traditions which provide, not only a wealth of information on the people and practices he photographed, but also insight into the relationship between these people and the media.
As a photographer he can often access rituals that are closed off from the public, but he has also come across those who distrust an outsider documenting their extremely private worlds. On the other hand, due to the booming tourist industry thirsty for ‘authentic experiences’, he has also witnessed the line between genuine ritual and staged performance pieces.
All these facets combine to give an incredibly in-depth picture of Southern African religion and spirituality and form a beautiful and moving work.