If you are new to the story, in short, in 2009, photographer, Jason Florio, myself, and three Gambian team mates, two donkeys and a cart to carry camera and camping equipment, walked around the small West African country of The Gambia – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘, on what would be the first fully documented circumnavigation of the country, completely by foot.
On the way around, we were warmly welcomed by many, many different Alkalo’s – male and female – who Jason then photographed. The formal portraits of the chiefs and elders became an award-winning body of work, entitled: ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘.
If you are in The Gambia, there is still a few more days to see the ‘Silafando‘ exhibition (until 30th April, 2015), at Gaya Art Cafe, Bertil Harding Highway (next door to Senegambia main craft market). And, to see and read more of the back story of the 930km walk, then please visit our ‘930km African Odyssey‘ blog.
A recent assignment took Florio to Uganda, and the border of DR Congo, to photograph, and film, a fascinating story with writer, Jon W. Rosen, for M.I.T. (Massachusett Institute of Technology)/Technology Review magazine. The piece is about Uganda’s ‘exploding lake (Kivu)’ – read Jon’s full article here, accompanied by Florio’s photographs and videography.
Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool is certainly an interesting place to shoot – you just need to watch your step, constantly. Thanks to Musa, our fixer and caretaker of the pool, Jason and I met with some young Gambian boys, to work further on our traditional masquerade project, which we started last year, here in The Gambia.
The three boys turned up with a couple of rice sacks, a bunch of leafy branches, and what looked like a few scraps of bright red fabric. Within half an hour, they were transformed into Kankurangs, and fully in character – jiggling branches, menacingly clashing machetes together, and omitting the rather alarming high-pitched screeches that seem to be the modus operandi of every Kankurang, and which always has the desired effect of unnerving everyone around them.
I’ll be posting more updates about this ongoing masquerade project as and when we find more subjects to photograph.
What a pleasure to welcome so many familiar faces and to meet new ones. It’s also not uncommon, at Gambian events, to rub shoulders – have a chat over a drink and canapés, as one does – with Ministers, Ambassadors, High Commissioners… . It’s what I really like about being in this tiny West Africa country – few people, however important their status, are truly unapproachable (Jason even had a brief tête-à-tête with the President a short while ago). For us, this informality has been invaluable in procuring official letters of introduction, to ease our passage as we travelled along by land and river, on both our West Africa expeditions.
So, thank you to all those dignitaries who came to support our arts and culture event last Friday, and especially to friends, old and new. Jason and I came away feeling that we’d tasted a little slice of the exhibition gatherings we love to frequent – when we are at home in New York – here at Gaya Art Café, in The Gambia.
Speaking of Gaya’s – huge thanks to everyone there for all their support and for allowing us to exhibit the Gambian chiefs in such a splendid setting. You guys rock – as does Gregor O’ Gorman, who curates the exhibitions there.
If you missed the opening, fear not. The exhibition will run until the end of April, 2015 – Mon-Saturday – outside in the garden and inside the restaurant.
You can see Jason Florio’s complete, award-winning, ‘Silafando‘ body of work on his website : floriophoto.com