Monday, November 9, 2009

This Wednesday, 11th of November, at 6:00 PM, the Kalk Bay Modern will be presenting the opening of A Hot and Quiet Evening – A Peter Clarke Exhibition. Opening the exhibition will be Lionel Davis and it will run from 11th – 30th November. Be sure not to miss as it promises to be a magnificent show featuring one of South Africa’s veteran artists.
This will be my last post about Paul Weinberg’s work and I have five wonderful images to share with you.
When I wrote about the Moving Spirit body of work in a previous blog, I did not yet have access to postable copies of his beautiful photographs (though I did have his book by the same title on my lap as I wrote). As I now do, I will post a few of my favourites and tell you a little more about them. 

The first image, I have chosen for its ‘surely-not’ factor. It shows a famous sangoma, Khekhekhe Mtetwa putting a black mamba snake in his mouth at an annual festival of fruits ceremony, near Eshowe, Kwazulu Natal. The black mamba is possibly the most feared snake in South Africa – it is extremely poisonous and is the only snake that will in fact chase you if you happen to disturb it. There is something both matter of fact and alarming in the eyes of Khekhekhe as he chews thoughtfully on the head of the snake, apparently no more concerned than if it was a rather sharp sour worm, or an unsavoury bit of rubber. I also cannot figure out why a fruit ceremony requires such an unlikely (albeit magnificent) feat.

The second image once again features a sangoma, this time a young woman in a state of trance at a graduation ceremony for traditional healers at Hlabisa, KwaZulu Natal. It is a wonderfully atmospheric photograph, the transcendent quality of the sangoma’s face enhanced by light and movement interference, caught by the camera and creating the surreal effect of her spirit moving through her. It is clear why this image was chosen for the cover of the Moving Spirit anthology – it certainly captures the strange, indefinable nature of the spirit and the spiritual quest.

I seem to be focussing mainly on sangoma’s here but I can’t resist one last image documenting their activities as this shows a particularly fascinating and relatively new addition to the practice. Our third image shows that novel being, a white sangoma, performing a cleansing ceremony for a twasa (a sangoma trainee) in the Umgeni River in KwaZulu Natal. The emergence of white sangomas is a wonderfully unusual phenomenon, seeming to indicate a deep connection between spirituality and the land as well as a cross-pollination of cultures that seems to confirm, as Paul has observed, that all spiritual tributaries lead to the same ocean common to us all.

And with that I move away from sangoma’s to another facet of that ocean (metaphorically and in this case literally) to baptisms of a Zion Church sect, on Inhaca Island, Mozambique. I have chosen these images for two reasons: I have always been fascinated by baptism, its significance as rebirth and the physicality of its process. This is not dusty intellectual spirituality experienced in the form of a classroom lecture. This is a process involving all the senses and allowing for physical contact between religious brethren in a holistic in what I imagine to be an intensely moving, deeply spiritual experience. The second of these two pictures on Inhaca Island shows a man praying, either before or after a baptism. I find this to be a most beautiful image, stirringly reverent yet profoundly calm, contrasting wonderfully with the intense, almost frenzied surge of rapture displayed in the first of the two.
I have really enjoyed discussing Paul Weinberg's work and hope that the information was useful and interesting.
The Peter Clarke exhibition this Wednesday promises to be a wonderful show – don’t miss it!

No comments:

Post a Comment