Still Points in a Turning World

In April of 2017, the Salomon Arts Gallery in Tribeca, New York held a solo exhibit of my ongoing project, “Still Points in a Turning World”. This work explores our universal cross-cultural truths: the importance of family, community, ritual and the amazing diversity of its expression.

“The central revelation of anthropology is that this world deserves to exist in a diverse way, that we must find a way to live in a truly multicultural, world where all of the wisdom of all peoples can contribute to our collective well-being.” Wade Davis

Click below to see more of my visual tales…

 

Magical Communion -Professional Photographer Magazine Feature!

Magical Communion -Professional Photographer Magazine Feature!

Excited to be the featured photographer in the February 2016 edition of Professional Photographer Magazine (a 6 page spread!)

MAGICAL COMMUNION   One friend told her she was crazy; another said she was insane. Others were even less kind. “I didn’t really blame them for telling me I was nutty to travel to Niger in West Africa in 2013,” says Manhattan- based Terri Gold. “After all, Ebola had recently broken out and the U.S. State Department was warning against traveling to much of the country.” The Peace Corps and other NGOs had already pulled out of Niger due to threats from extremist groups such as Boko Haram. But Gold was unfazed. The globetrotting photographer had already traveled to Rajasthan, India; the Omo Valley, Ethiopia; Lhasa, Tibet; Kham, China, and a slew of other hard-to-reach, often dangerous places to document what she calls “cross-cultural moments in time” and “the unguarded moment.” Ever since she’d seen photographer Carol Beckwith’s 1983 book, “Nomads of the Niger,” she’d wanted to visit the landlocked country, hoping to photograph the Wodaabe nomads as they celebrate their annual weeklong courtship ritual, the Guerewol Festival. “I’m pretty stubborn once I’ve set my mind on doing something,” explains Gold. “Besides, this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip.”

Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.01.36GREATER RISK, GREATER REWARD   That said, an email from the trip’s Africabased organizer did give her pause. “She was writing to reassure us,” remembers Gold, who planned to travel to Niger with two other photographers. “She told us, ‘Don’t worry. We will have 20 armed guards with .50 caliber machine guns to accompany us, and it would take a multi-vehicle convoy to attack us.’” Gold pauses and adds, “We talked about calling off the trip but this was too good an adventure to cancel.” Her persistence and courage paid off. The remarkable images she captured during her three-week adventure have earned her numerous national and international awards and have been reprinted in online media, including the Huffington Post and the BBC. But more important to Gold is that they’re the latest contributions to her lifework, a yet-to-bepublished series of ritual and celebration photographs she’s made all around the world, dubbed “Still Points in a Turning World.” The collection’s T.S. Eliott-inspired title refers to rituals and moments that tie all people together, she says. Gold began her photography career shooting weddings and was intrigued by how vulnerable people acted during what she calls “grace moments.” “I loved capturing people’s emotions and how they were feeling during these special, unguarded moments,” she says. “I am not showcasing otherness, but rather providing a window on our common humanity.” Gold has exibited her work in Spain, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Colorado, Vermont and at the Annenberg Space for Photography. She’s preparing for more exhibitions this year. Recent awards include the International Photography Awards, Prix de la Photographie Paris, Humanity Photo Awards, and the Black and White Spider Awards.

Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.01.58UNDER THE SPELL    Since childhood, Gold has been fascinated by explorers such as Mary Kingsley, Isabella Bird, and Alexandra David-Neel, intrepid women who traveled to foreign lands to report on cultures and traditions. When Gold herself began traveling, first to Asia in the late 1980s, she noticed a common humanity among various cultures. “While we may have our bar mitzvah, a foreign tribe may have a bull jumping ceremony,” Gold says. “These rituals look different, but the values are the same. We laugh and cry at the same things. I wanted to try to capture that on film.” She began visiting parts of the world that fired her Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.02.11imagination and brought along her camera gear. “While friends were going to Paris or London, I was more interested in setting off for those curious corners of the world, such as Timbuktu or Rajasthan—places that seemed to me to be steeped in mystery and intrigue.” She admits these self-assigned trips could be expensive, but because she has no children to support, “I am free to follow my own passion.” That passion included a desire to highlight the mysterious side—what she terms “the magic realism”—of the places she visited. She’s long used infrared film and knew it could give her that special quality she sought. “I like the way infrared pierces the veil; it has an invisible iridescent quality, a shimmer to it. It illuminates another dimension,” says Gold. “I thought it was the perfect film for these parts of the world where there is so much mystery.” Using infrared harkened back to her days as a lith printer, a process she learned at Manhattan’s International Center of Photography in the 1990s. “With lith printing no two prints were the same,” says Gold. “I liked the sense of discovery it offered. It was always a dance in the darkroom.” Infrared film offers her a similar surprise element. “Infrared gives you the mysterious right away. It also sees things you don’t see,” says Gold. “You don’t know exactly where the colors are going to fall. For example, you do know the green leaves are going to turn slightly white but it all depends on how the sun is hitting the leaves. It’s the same with water. It’s impossible to pre-visualize with infrared. “Many of my early photography mentors talked about the necessity of pre-visualizing your work, but that did not work for me. I want to go on a journey with my photographs and want to be surprised. I love the unexpected.”

Screenshot 2016-01-29 15.02.25Inspired by a friend’s photograph that had been painted, Gold began painting on her own prints, often adding encaustic wax. She sometimes uses extensive post-processing and is fond of split toning. “Taking pictures is just the beginning for me,” says Gold. In the pre-digital days Gold had to carry four to five cameras—everything from several 35mm cameras loaded with regular and infrared film to a Mamiya and a Hasselblad and film changing bags. “I would freak out at airports and beg the customs people not to open my infrared film canisters. Now it’s a lot easier, and I travel with converted infrared digital cameras.” She usually carries a Canon EOS 5D Mark III. “Digital has freed me up so much,” says Gold. “I have more freedom in aperture, exposure, and shutter speed. And now for the first time with infrared I can get some idea of what I am shooting.” Gold captures almost all her subjects in infrared but admits, “It doesn’t always work. I know it has its limitations, but I always give it a try. I always also have a color camera along with me.” If making memorable photography is about capturing a moment, then Terri Gold’s trip to Niger is a life lesson in the importance of making those moments happen. As she readily admits, it would have been very easy for her to cancel her trip because of all the perceived dangers. “In fact, a week or so after we left Niger, al-Qaeda rebels spilled over into the country from Libya,” she says. “If we had cancelled or delayed our trip, we never would have gotten back there.” But she didn’t cancel. She braved 110-plus degree Fahrenheit heat to document a ceremony in one of the world’s most remote deserts and returned with powerful images. For all the travel warnings, her trip went smoothly. “Any worries about violence and unrest disappeared during our time amongst the welcoming Wodaabe, especially when we camped under a tapestry of the Milky Way accompanied by the chanting of the nomads and the lullabies of their animal herds.” While she hesitates to describe herself as brave, she says she now understands completely the Wodaabe adage she learned on her trip: Who cannot bear the smoke will never get to the fire. • terrigoldworldimagery.com

Robert Kiener is a writer based in Vermont.

 

Huffington Post Features Images from Niger

I am pleased to announce that the Huffington Post has featured my images of the nomadic tribes of Niger.

I want to create a visual document that reminds us, and generations to come, how beautiful and diverse the world is.

I see more than ever the importance of sharing our stories to gain a deeper understanding of the timeless past as it meets the imminent future.

I am happy that a globally respected news organization shares in these concerns, attesting to the importance of the preservation of human diversity and the wonder of our planet.

huffington post

To read the full article on Huffington Post, click here. 

BRONZE MEDAL WINNER PRIX DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE PARIS

winnerlogo

HINT OF HENNA IN NIGER : BRONZE MEDAL

Gold_Terri_HintofHenna 600

YAAKA DANCE : HONORABLE MENTION

Gold_Terri_NomadsinNiger 600

GARDEN CAMPSITE : HONORABLE MENTION

Terri_Gold_OmoValleyGarden 600

TERRI GOLD OF UNITED STATES WAS AWARDED THIRD PRIZE IN THE PX3 2015 COMPETITION. 

PARIS, FRANCE
PRIX DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE PARIS (PX3) ANNOUNCES WINNERS OF PX3 2015 COMPETITION.

Terri Gold  of United States was Awarded: Third Prize in category Portraiture for the entry entitled, ” Hint of Henna in Niger .” The jury selected PX3 2015’s winners from thousands of photography entries from over 85 countries. 

ABOUT Px3:

The “Prix de la Photographie Paris” (Px3) strives to promote the appreciation of photography, to discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris. Winning photographs from this competition are exhibited in a high-profile gallery in Paris and published in the high-quality, full-color Px3 Annual Book.
Visit http://px3.fr

 

Three Cups of Tea in Niger

The nomads in Niger say that tea is the “friend of conversation.” I watched  how the rhythms of the day are marked by  the tea service. Tea finishes off every meal and signals the time for the afternoon nap. The last cup marks the end of the day.

They  say that wan-iyen – the first round – is bitter, like life. The sharp taste of the Chinese green tea  not yet diluted by pots of water. Wan-ashin, the second round, is sweet, like love; sugar is  added and the tea has lost some of its strength. Wan-karad, the third round, is light, like the “breath of death.” This one is little more than sugary water.

None of the  activities required to live in the desert, such as pounding millet or pulling water from a deep well or the  preparation of tea looked  easy and I could see one needed strength, patience and grace.Niger_Red-4-700 Niger_Red-268-704 Niger_red3-1407-703

Security in Niger

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.” Lillian Smith

Niger was a journey to both the inner and outer worlds. I was continually aware there was much going on beyond what I saw in front of me. So much about the life here that I didn’t understand. To live the life of a nomad with no fixed home, little access to education or health care or much knowledge about the world. What that must that be like…

The unseen layers called me. The world is big enough for so  many different values and beliefs. What links us all is our common humanity. I travel to stretch my imagination and beliefs.

We flew from Niamey, the capital, to Agadez on the UN plane under the auspices of the Nomad Foundation. There we met with our security team of 2 vehicles with 9 armed soldiers in each car and a 50 caliber machine gun on each truck. One cannot leave Agadez without them. We were shadowed quietly by them throughout the trip.  We were warmly received at the festivals  and encountered no problems with our security and yet now, on returning home, the situation has changed and we would probably not be able to go this week.

We received this  bulletin from the  US State Department this week :

While the U.S. Embassy is unaware of any specific, credible threats against U.S. or western interests or individuals in Niger, U.S. citizens residing in, or visiting Niger should remain vigilant regarding their personal security and stay alert to local security developments. We also heard that French troops have reportedly destroyed an al-Qaeda convoy in Niger that was transporting weapons from Libya to Mali, and also captured some of the group’s fighters. There were 250 military vehicles racing through Agadez on the way North to address this problem.

Our timing was very lucky and I feel privileged to have visited the festivals that so few people get to see.  I am  very sad that the incredible program that  Leslie Clark and the Nomad Foundation had set up for this week had to be postponed till the situation becomes stable again. Leslie had a doctor coming to work with the local midwives and other volunteers to implement  a new building technique. I hope this all gets to happen in the not to distant future.

Niger_Red-44 Niger_Red-629-4 Niger_Red-656-6