African Ceremonies Virtual Exhibit on Google Cultural Institute (Photos)

cultural_inst_googlrThe Cultural Institute is a collective effort by Google featuring online collaborations with various art organizations and museums to showcase digital exhibitions in a virtual museum.

The latest exhibit, African Ceremonies: Passages is an online collection of multimedia videos and images illustrating various ritual events marking a person’s transition into a new status of their life. The exhibit is curated by photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher who both met in Kenya and began on a journey traveling across 40 African countries and documenting  rituals and rites of passage.Through their journey, both women have collaborated and produced 14 universally acclaimed books, including Maasai (1980), Nomads of the Niger (1983), Africa Adorned (1984), African Ark (1990), African Ceremonies (1999), Passages (2000), Faces of Africa (2004), Lamu: Kenya’s Enchanted Island (2009), Dinka (2010) and Painted Bodies (2012). They won the United Nations Award for excellence with their 1999 double volume publication, African Ceremonies – a book featuring studies of rituals and rites of passage from birth to death covering ninety-three ceremonies from twenty six countries.


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The women have also set up a foundation: African Ceremonies, Inc Recording the Past, Supporting the Future African Ceremonies Inc which is ‘dedicated to the preservation of African tribal traditions through the photographic documentation of ceremonies and customs.’

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“During our 30 years in Africa recording traditional ceremonies, we have observed that life relies on a continuing cycle of giving and receiving. Each rite begins with a gift or an offering: survival depends on this basic principle. We, too, have looked for the appropriate ways to reciprocate the support given to us by the communities where we have lived. We found that small projects closely tied to communal and personal needs at grass roots level have made a significant difference to the welfare of the people with whom we have worked.” ~ Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher

To learn more about the images displayed and to see more in the collection, visit: the Google Cultural Institue exhibit here.


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