Home, 1996 (detail)

Phyllis Galembo’s recent photographs taken during extended travels through the Caribbean, Brazil and Africa, a deep respect for religious ritual combines with current stylistic preference for highly formal and detailed observation of one’s subject. Her work differs from that of other contemporary photographers in that rather than duplicate the supposedly objective position of an anthropologist attempting to extract the meaning from the scenes and people she observes and records, Galembo seems to be completely taken by their personal vigor as individuals. The resulting images not only accomplish an underlying goal of establishing direct visual links between present-day Africa and African diasporan beliefs and practices, but they also personalize their subjects by giving them a sense of complete familiarity with the photographer (and us). Rather than exoticize the obvious passion with which spiritual belief is manifested in these societies, Galembo actually manages to make it seem both beautiful and curiously offhand, as if the lives captured in these photographs might be the same as those lived by the same people we pass every day in the street.

(excerpt from Dan Cameron's catalog essay, click to see full text)