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Gaël Turine November 17, 2011

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Benin.
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Abomey, Benin 2008

Gaël Turine (b. 1972 France) received a degree in photography in 1997 and shortly after began “Aveuglément” (Blindly) photographing the cooperatives for the blind in West Africa. This project was published in the Photo Poche series edited by Robert Delpire in 2001 and was also exhibited in five European capitals and awarded twice. In the same year, after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan he published the book “Being 20 in Kabul”. Gaël has received a grant from a private Belgian foundation to work in Eritrea and in 2004 received the first grant from the Aftermath Project to cover three more trips there. This body of work has been exhibited in 2007 at Visa Pour l’Image. His work has been published in Figaro, Paris Match, Libération, l’Express, Le Monde, Time, Der Spiegel, among others. Gaël is a member of the VU’ photo agency and is based in Paris and Brussels.

About the Photograph:

“This picture is from of my book project on Voodoo. It’s about the route of the Voodoo religion, from its African origins in Benin to Haiti and the United States. Benin is the heart of Voodoo because of the ancient beliefs and the link it has with the Dahomey Kingdom which developed  through out Western Africa. In Benin, the cult is practiced all over the country and by all types of people- openly for some, quietly for others. Voodoo priests are very popular and maintain a natural connection with the politic and tribal authorities. During a ceremony that took place in a remote village in the region of Abomey, this man, who was in a trance, was acting the protective mask dance. This traditional voodoo dance will make the people living in the house protected from bad and negative spirits.”

Jean-Michel Clajot October 12, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Benin.
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Scarification, Benin 2008

Jean-Michel Clajot (b. 1971, Belgium) began his professional career with his first trip to Somalia. After a stint as a photographer for various newspapers, he worked the next 10 years for News Press Agencies in Brussels (Reporters Press Agency). In 2006, he concentrated on Africa. He believes there is much more to this great and unknown continent than war, Aids, hunger, poverty. In 2007, he signed up with Cosmos Photo Agency in Paris, France for worldwide distribution and as well as Aurora Photos for North American sales. He has been working for over three years on scarification in Benin.

About the Photograph:

“Scarification, as a cultural activity, is widely performed across Africa. In essence, it is the practice of incising the skin with a sharp instrument, (such as a knife, glass, stone, or coconut shell) in such a way as to control the shape of the scar tissue on various parts of the body. Cicatrisation is a special form of scarification, whereby a gash is made in the skin with a sharp instrument, and irritation of the skin caused by applying caustic plant juices forms permanent blisters. Dark pigments such as ground charcoal or gunpowder are sometimes rubbed into the wound to provide emphasis. These cuts, when healed, form raised scars, known as keloids. The most complicated cicatrisation was probably found in the Congo Basin and neighboring regions, and among the Akan speakers of West Africa.”

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