Even in a continent rich with fantastic traditional garments, the Herero tribe of Namibia stands out. Photographer Jim Naughten first came across and photographed members of the tribe while traveling across Southern Africa 15 years ago. Naughten returned in 2011 with better camera equipment and produced this eye-catching series. Merrell has just published a book of the work, and two shows open in March: at Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, and Margaret Street Gallery in London.
The origin of the Herero dress is early-20th-century German colonization. The outfits, which at first were forced on the Herero, later became a tradition, a choice, and a source of pride and status as they made the fashion their own. Tribe members wear the German uniforms at various ceremonies, funerals, and festivals as a way of honoring their warrior ancestors.
Photo: Jim Naughten/courtesy of Klompching Gallery, Brooklyn, N.Y.
The colours stay within the mind, the light
Will not so easily permit itself
To be put out. In thoughts once more at home
A foreign fire will gleam, tints taken from
A sail, a wake of water widening out
Or subtle colours that make crumbling buildings
Renew themselves. These we have with us still.
And home again we learn how much we build
Abroad, put roots down in impermanence
Yet waver not from what time drags away
But are drawn too—like colours fading fast,
Like slow canals escaping to the sea.
Rest in this power to adapt, remember
The mind still turns like the huge globe and shows
Now Italy, now England and we are
The axis on which all our journeys move.
—Elizabeth Jennings, “XI. Journey from a Landscape,” from Sequence in Venice
Photography Credit Viktor Gårdsäter, from “Balloon Man’s Last Walk,” via Booooooom
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