“Fine horses and fierce eagles are the wings of the Kazakh”.
I decided to realize one of my dreams in life this year: a travel in Mongolia. It’s a land that always fascinated me, maybe because I know, I have the memories of the past: in one of my previous lives I was a warrior Mongol leader.
I know it is strange to tell about that, not the last (where I was a Thai monk), but one of many my previous lives, I have clear memories and scenes in front of me regarding this life. So I always wanted to travel one day in Mongolia! I love all the Mongolian culture: clothing, jewelry, traditions, landscapes etc.
All this talk about to say and show you a great photographer that I Love so much: JIMMY NELSON. In Berlin today Camera Work and CWC Gallery has inaugurated his wonderful exhibition: BEFORE THEY PASS AWAY.
In many respects, the term »unique« describes the people portrayed by Jimmy Nelson best: Representatives of the world’s last indigenous peoples are the protagonists in Nelson’s photographs. His works go far beyond serving solely as a neutral visual document, serving the public’s vague idea about the existence of those tribesmen and peoples.
With his epochal series, Jimmy Nelson establishes an awareness for the fascinating variety of the culture- and history charged symbols of the people, reflecting their rites, customs and traditions, that hitherto has not existed to this extend. Among several other countries his journeys led Nelson to Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya, to China and Nepal or Siberia and Mongolia.
The spectator is confronted with the unknown and foreign in a genuine sense through the unfamiliar exoticism of the luxuriant fur robes of the Kazakhs in Mongolia, the colorful cloths of the Maasai in Tanzania, the pearl jewelry and feather decorations of the nhabitants of Goroka in Papua New Guinea, or the unembarrassed bare skin, if not tattooed or painted, of the Karo in Ethiopia.
His pictures oscillate between being a visual testament of authenticity and being the expression of a calculus of composition committed to the ideas of beauty, pride and dignity.
Pride and dignity lie in the looks of the portrayed persons’ eyes that are vigorous enough to transcend the photograph’s restriction by frame even in front of a totally diminished background. They tell exactly those stories that are of vital importance to Jimmy Nelson and that he is keen to find on his journeys.
Different perspectives and layers of meaning thus seem to overlap and intermingle in the photographs. Their contents’ authenticity poses the question as to which extent, or in which cultural frame, such attributes can be attested by the spectator. For the tribesmen their bodies are jewelry just as the ones they decorate them with.
This game with signs, repeated by Nelson in his visual language, encodes his works with ambiguity, is eventually a game of appearances. To generally bring appearances into question is one of the central messages Nelson took with him on his journeys.
Exhibition from March 8, 2014
CAMERA WORK ⋅ Kantstrasse 149 ⋅ 10623 Berlin · Germany · Tue–Sat 11a.m. – 6 p.m.
CWC GALLERY · Auguststrasse 11–13 · 10117 Berlin · Tue–Sat · 11a.m. – 7p.m.