PHYLLIS GALEMBO has traveled extensively to photograph the visually stunning ceremonial dress of religious and cultural practitioners in Africa, North and South America, India, and the Caribbean since 1985. Her latest body of work, turns to Mexico, where Galembo captures cultural performances with a subterranean political edge. Her signature portraiture style directly engages her subjects who are informally posed and strikingly attired, their traditional ritual dress reflecting color and light.
Masking is a complex tradition in which the participants transcend the physical world and enter the spiritual realm. Masks, costumes and body paint transform the human body and encode a rich range of political, artistic, theatrical, social and religious meanings onto the human form. In this lecture Galembo highlights the artistry of the performers, how they use materials to morph into fantastical and idealized representations of mythical figures. She captures her subjects suspended between past, present and future, with their religious, political and cultural affiliation, their personal and collective identities inscribed onto their bodies.
Galembo has published several monographs Sodo, Haiti: 1997-2001, will be published by Datz Books this year. Other publications include; Mexico: Masks, Rituals (2019), Maske (2016), Dressed for thrills: 100 years of Halloween costumes & masquerade (2002), Divine inspiration: from Benin to Bahia (1993), Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti (1998) Pale Pink (1983).
Galembo was a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow in 2014 as well as a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow in 2016, 2010, and 1996. She earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 1977.
Galembo has had solo exhibitions at the Boca Rotan Museum of Art, Florida, the International Center for Photography (ICP), new York, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., the Tang Museum, and the American Museum of Natural History, New York, among other venues and has appeared at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, and in several group exhibitions. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Houston Museum of Art, International Center for Photography (ICP), New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Yale University Art Gallery, Library of Congress among others. Her work has been widely reviewed and published in print and other media.
Ms. Galembo is currently represented by Axis Gallery, NY.