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In Perspective, Planet: Memory of colors Project: Must not be missed!

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I first discovered the Memory of Colors Project from the article by Article by Peter van den Hamer in Luminous Landscape on one photographer's special gift in portraits of people who's cultures and styles are unique and perhaps may be lost to future generations. I wondered about the unbelievable beauty of the Girl from Ethiopia's Mursi tribe.

This says it all! Great composition, nobility, beauty, mystery, magic and natural color that cannot be improved upon. This is from the large collective work by Jaime Ocampo-Rangel, photographing different cultural treasures of people on a simple but fitting, (generally, monochromatic), background.




Memory of Colors Article in Luminous Landscape




Memory of Colors website


I get turned off when folk use masterpiece for their own work, but here, this must be allowed! See the full story here.

What are your favorites and what's your opinion. Look at the two pictures again and note the crop. What does this mean to you? Please make sure you look at the whole array of portraits from different cultures. Not doing so would be a great mistake and loss.

Asher
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
Asher, one question please.

Why a semi- nude female figure to represent all the beauty, grace, dignity of a culture?

Here is my take to represent the beauty, grace, color and dignity of another culture.. And respect for it.


Just wondering.

Or is it the instinct of the photographer whose name belies his ancestral past? And driven by his colonial
heritage.

Would it be acceptable for me to say photograph in the States or the Netherlands using a similar set-up and portray it as representative of American or Dutch culture? Relatively easy to do. But not my way of showing appreciation and respect for great cultures and countries.

I think that such a portrayal, besides being morally corrupt and degrading, would not even be in my thoughts. But then again, what passes sometimes for ' art ' is not in my moral, cultural or everyday vocabulary either.
 

Mark Hampton

New member
Asher, one question please.

Why a semi- nude female figure to represent all the beauty, grace, dignity of a culture?

Here is my take to represent the beauty, grace, color and dignity of another culture.. And respect for it.


Just wondering.

Or is it the instinct of the photographer whose name belies his ancestral past? And driven by his colonial
heritage.

Would it be acceptable for me to say photograph in the States or the Netherlands using a similar set-up and portray it as representative of American or Dutch culture? Relatively easy to do. But not my way of showing appreciation and respect for great cultures and countries.

I think that such a portrayal, besides being morally corrupt and degrading, would not even be in my thoughts. But then again, what passes sometimes for ' art ' is not in my moral, cultural or everyday vocabulary either.
Fahim,

I do believe he is on very dodgy ground here - his specimens are interesting as specimens (I use the word by choice) but the photography and use of colour is badly photographic. Reminds me national geographic imagery. Just my 20p

cheers
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
Mark, this is very old National Geographic at that. Natives displayed in the worst possible light and photographs for the ' civilized ' to see and contribute to the NatGeo explorations.

Bare bosomed native females on display for the colonial masters to enjoy.

Here is a lesson. This is how you portray the dignity of man. The dignity of a culture. The dignity of
a civilization that existed long before we knew it was there.

This is my way of showing respect, of holding the people to the highest esteem that I can muster with my camera...


This is how I pay respect to the human spirit. To the dignity of man.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Asher, one question please.

Why a semi- nude female figure to represent all the beauty, grace, dignity of a culture?

Here is my take to represent the beauty, grace, color and dignity of another culture.. And respect for it.
Precisely! That's why went to the extra effort of showing both pictures! I did write, "Is there a tad of exploitation here" but didn't want to force that conclusion on anyone so removed that editorial comment.

Having said that, for someone who has travelled extensively in Africa and visited my villages, its utterly normal for woman to show their breasts. There's no one gawking. It's of no consequence at all. At first I was stunned and fixated. That lasted a minute as it was such a common view wherever one looked, like leaves on a tree. In the end it was of no consequence. It became like the eyes or hands, either young or with sun-damaged or aging skin.

It had nothing to do with "colonialism" but the different values in out cultures meant that what was normal in one circumstance can be an affront to decency in another. Beachwear might be very revealing but the same exposure at work would be unthinkable.

However, if the young woman with the perfect form was educated as to the reaction of city folk in Holland to her dress, then what? She might laugh at the silliness of the Western system of modesty. Maybe she's think, "Good, they can see real beauty"? Or, perhaps she'd demand money for the shot! Would she refuse the picture? I doubt it as she is proud of her looks. That's the whole point. She has gone to a great effort to look beautiful.

Still, I had that nagging feeling of exploitation and that's why I also showed the Luminous-Landscape full version.

Asher
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
Then the photographer should show it to the audience where it is considered normal.

I am sure the ' villagers ' there would not mind.

Why is it considered offensive to show pictures of the dead and dying war victims on certain
Western TV?

Whiy is it considered to ban cigarette ads on TV in one country, knowing full well its harmful effects
to allow the same companies to advertise in other countries?

Why is there a PG rating on TV and movie shows. Men and women are naked in some tribal societies, they would consider it normal. Why not allow children to be shown those scenes on TV.

Narcotics are a way of life in certain societies. They would consider banning them in other societies as ridiculous.

Asher, leaving specific examples aside, we generally consider some issues as applying to all
' civilized ' societies. I use this term very guardedly.

You, it seems, are trying to justify a photographer, who evidently wants to celebrate the dignity
of a culture in this manner.

It might meet with your approval. It does not meet with mine. Nothing wrong in us disagreeing.

I have shown you how I would show a culture and its practices with respect and dignity.

The photographer obviously does not. Fine.

Since you have referred to LL at least twice, I must comment. Mr. MR caused a lot of conterversy
when he published a ' snapshot ' of an underage Brazilian girl. He did not find it wrong. Others did.

And what does the photographer know about Eithiopia. Ask us. Ayesha and me can tell you about
the dignity of its people and its culture.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Precisely! That's why went to the extra effort of showing both pictures! I did write, "Is there a tad of exploitation here" but didn't want to force that conclusion on anyone so removed that editorial comment.

.....It became like the eyes or hands, either young or with sun-damaged or aging skin.

It had nothing to do with "colonialism" but the different values in out cultures meant that what was normal in one circumstance can be an affront to decency in another. Beachwear might be very revealing but the same exposure at work would be unthinkable......

Still, I had that nagging feeling of exploitation and that's why I also showed the Luminous-Landscape full version.

Asher
You have correctly picked up and expanded my strong feelings that this might be exploitation because of place and community standards. Despite this, I don't come down against the photographer. Why not? Because if I visited I'd see the same sight, just as when you show the more modest unposed pictures from your travels. Still, I must admit to being unsettled!

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Still, back to the photography itself, this is most beautiful as a work of art. I would have thought it was perfect with the cropped version.



Memory of Colors website​


But compare this to the complete image. With the flowing robe missing, the picture is damaged. The uncropped version with the gentle free draping of her clothing and the perfection of her skin with the sienna color platte provides endless grace. I asked my wife to look at it and she felt it was a great work of art, with the choice of background and the lighting showcasing the native beauty.

There's no accident here! The girl and her family have invested a lot of effort. There's cultural roots and creativity in the hairstyle, clothing and jewelry. Her pose is most elegant. That's their intention. It's a natural as the sunrise and sunset! Yes, it's all staged to look stunningly impressive and a synthesis of the tribes symbols and skills in decoration. It's a celebration showing of their best.

National Geographic loves this sort of style, but truly, this is how the girl does dress up in her finest!

By contrast, Fahim, your pictures are hardly staged! You show culture as it happens. It seems much more genuine, but both are valid.

My own father would have dismissed you picture as idol worship and ban it from the house! So there's a huge range of reaction possible. I am impressed by your kindness and celebration of the validity of human expression. Even more so I value your respect for various ways of our veneration for something more lasting than our presence on this fragile planet.

Asher
 

fahim mohammed

Active member
Still, back to the photography itself, this is most beautiful as a work of art. I would have thought it was perfect with the cropped version.



Memory of Colors website​

........

National Geographic loves this sort of style, but truly, this is how the girl does dress up in her finest!

By contrast, Fahim, your pictures are hardly staged! You show culture as it happens. It seems much more genuine, but both are valid.

My own father would have dismissed you picture as idol worship and ban it from the house!
....
Asher
I have a collection of NatGeo..some very old. Asher, I know their content. I know their style.

I show culture as it happens in everday life. Not on speial occasions. Or dressed up to look their finest. I believe that dignity has nothing to do with specific times. As I believe that respect for other cultures should be for all times.

Unfortunately Asher I do not agree that both ways of celebrating the beauty and dignity of a culture...as I have illustrated and as Mr. Peter has illustrated...are both valid.

One is and one is not. Which one is valid and for whom is a decision each one of us should be free
to make. I respect decisions contrary to mine.

I have mentioned previously that your honorable father was a wise man. His decision regarding the actions as portrayed by the image presented by me accords with mine.

However, I have a feeling...nay I am almost sure which of the two images..mine and Mr. Peter's
he would find more dignified and reflecting the nobility of a culture. However wrong the practices
of that culture might have been to him.

Just to inform you, my family is even stricter than your father with respect to my images.
All of them want I erase the images from my HD and archives.

But they grudingly do agree that my images are a sensitive celebration of a different culture.

I respect you for your opinions. It is only fair that I let you have the last word, if you so choose.

There is a saying in Arabic..the five fingers of a hand are not the same size....but they do belong to the same hand.

Regards.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Someone else's spiritual devotion can appear fascinating. So we record it and bring it home. It takes trust and understanding to distinguish empathy to such expression from sympathy with their specific beliefs. The first just speaks of great respect and tolerance, the latter might be mistaken or suspect for apostasy.

Similarly in photography of folk different than ourselves, there's a range of motivations for each of us from the most noble to the thrill of trophy-hunting of women of distant lands.

Asher
 
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