feature shoot – Photographer gains Once-In-A-Lifetime Access ToThe Festival Of Niger’s Nomadic Tribes

Feature shoot

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So happy to have work presented on the Feature shoot blog today. Link to the full article here

http://www.featureshoot.com/2015/07/photographer-gains-once-in-a-lifetime-access-to-the-festival-of-nigers-nomadic-tribes/

When rainfall quenches the bone-dry terrain of Southern Niger, says New York-based travel photographer Terri Gold, a thousand Wodaabe nomads, along with thousands of their treasured animals, coverage across the desert in celebration of the The Guérewol Festival. As part of the weeklong event, the men dress in traditional finery, adorn their faces in paint, and perform for hours in hopes of winning the admiration of a set of young women judges. After braving the 110 degree heat in search of the merrymaking, Gold at last happened upon Guérewol after weeks of anticipation. 

Niger has hosted no tourism for the better part of the last decade, explains the photographer, who embarked on her journey with three additional women. Because of the political surroundings and the threat of al Qaeda members coming in from Libya, she was flanked by eighteen armed guards who bore automatic rifles in hands; the trucks in which she traveled were outfitted with fifty millimeter machine guns. Drawn initially to Niger by the work of fellow photographer Carol Beckwith, Gold was guided by The Nomad Foundation’s Leslie Clark, who took them from the city of Agadez, where the mud brick mosque of 1515 still stands, and into the desert.

Because the Wodaabe tribes are spread out across the land, Gold and her companions had no way of knowing precisely when they would convene for the annual festival. The Wodaabe are governed by the whims of the Sahel; they follow in the footsteps of their goats, camels, donkeys, sheep, and cattle in pursuit of the water sources that change continuously with the seasons. Life for the nomad is treacherous and each is exposed to the brutal elements, and yet for Gold, this is part of the beauty of the Wodaabe. Their philosophies are founded on both the bitterness of their struggle and the abounding rewards of their perseverance. The photographer repeats the Wodaabe adage, “Who cannot bear the smoke will never get to the fire”.

Only in the season of rain are they able to converge as a community, to find lovers, and to carry out age-old customs. Guérewol, suggests Gold, is a joyous sight, filled with laughter, singing, and dance. One the men have dressed up and performed for the women, winners are chosen based on strength, stamina, and beauty. They bear a cloth that covers the lower half of the body, embellished belts, and headdresses ornamented with feathers, all of which create the effect of great height. As the sun beats down upon them, they endure until at last the women advance and make their picks.

Though al Qaeda groups were to enter the area only days after Gold had departed, she admits that violence and unrest seemed far away during her time amongst the nomads; all fears were secured and hushed when she lay “camping under a tapestry of one hundred thousand stars accompanied by the lullabies of the animal herds.”

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The Table Of Silence Project 9/11

The Table Of Silence Project 9/11 returned  for a third year to Lincoln Center today. Conceived by choreographer Jaculyn Buglisi and visual artist Rossella Vasta with flautist Andrea Ceccomori and over 100 dancers, including the Buglisi Dance Theatre. The performance started at 8:15 and concluded at precisely 8:46,  the moment American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the north tower.

“The Table of Silence Project represents the common threads of humanity which unite all mankind into a single force with common goals and aspirations regardless of race, culture, or religion. Through this event, we wish to achieve the dual purpose of celebrating and honoring peace, through listening, a united moment of silence – a call for Peace in our world.” – Jacqulyn Buglisi

“There comes a moment, through repetition–like the beating of the hands, the pounding of the fist against the heart–that compels you to create a rhythmic tone that expresses perhaps some great hymn, some offering or worship that allows people to be unified in unexplained compassion.  They do not need words in this ritual.”

In partnership with Dance/NYC and September Concert, Buglisi Dance Theatre brings together the dancers to gather in silent procession, forming patterns of concentric circles to create a peace labyrinth while encircling the Revson Fountain as a symbol of eternity, compassion and continuity of the life cycle. At 8:46 AM, the dancers turned their wrists with open palms  and extended their arms to the sky for one minute, evoking the simple gesture of universal peace.

The Table Of Silence Project 9/11

The Table Of Silence Project 9/11

The Mermaid Parade in Coney Island

The Mermaid Parade celebrates the sand, the sea, the salt air and the beginning of summer, as well as the history and myths of Coney Island.  In hand-made costumes as Mermaids, Neptunes and various sea creatures,  everyone promenades, sashays and struts  riotously  down Surf  Avenue . It’s part-fantasy, part-escapism, but all real. The festival is  a celebration of the imagination, combining all the oddities and all the joys of artistic self-expression.

I have shot this festival on and off for 20 years and it is always fabulous !

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The Coney Island Mermaid Parade

Saturday was the fabulous Coney Island Mermaid Parade. This year the parade also had a message.  As one sign put it: “Fuck You BP, Save the Mermaids.”  “Performance artist  (Tigger) Ferguson told the Daily News, “Today is a celebration of sea life trying to survive in the gulf. The Mermaid Parade is a celebration of marine life, mythical and real.”

Still, the parade was as colorful and festive as ever. Lou Reed and wife Laurie Anderson served as the parade’s King and Queen, and everyone including the large group of  inventive photographers had a great time. Along with the amazing mermaids and mermen and their creative costumes , the array of photographic gear is always inspirational. Every unique flash contraption, medium and large format film cameras and  polaroid cameras and more are  on display.

Coney Island is filled with new rides and the Circus and music on the boardwalk every night. I am definitely going back for a sunset visit to photograph more of the scene.



Venice

” This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty – this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose air the arts once voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.”  and where we began the romantic  wedding celebration festivities of Justine Burnside and Nicolo Magni.

Venice

Venice

Justine -the beautiful  bride-In Murano

Justine -the beautiful bride-In Murano

Minnie in Venice

Minnie in Venice

Venice

Venice

Murano

Murano

The group In Venice

The group In Venice

Minnie in Venice

Minnie in Venice

The Mermaid Parade

As the summer solstice approaches, along with the gift of longer days and more light, comes The Mermaid Parade. The wonderful Coney Island Mermaid Parade occurs the first Saturday after the summer solstice. Hundreds of mermaids, Neptune’s, mer-men and thousands of spectators and photographers descend upon Coney Island to celebrate the beginning of summer and the official opening of the Atlantic Ocean. Part Mardi Gras, part art festival; the Parade is a New York tradition. I have been photographing the Parade for 15 years whenever I am free-this year I am shooting a wedding that day so I am posting images from previous years and I encourage anyone who wants to begin the summer with spirit to join the festivities.    For more information : http://www.coneyisland.com/mermaid.shtml mermaid_08-69mermaids08-127mermaid csmermaid_08-13-Edit2 mermaids-1