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Call and Response: Africa to America / The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo

Call and Response: Africa to America / The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo
May 2010
A sensory exploration of West African masquerade

For the first time in five years, the festival has incorporated a visual arts component into its performing arts schedule, but this is no quiet gallery scene with the hushed murmurs of lookers-on. Expect some noise. Expect loud, vibrant color. Expect a different kind of arts experience altogether.

For the exhibit, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art curator Mark Sloan has paired photographer Phyllis Galembo’s exotic and engaging portraits with contemporary artist Nick Cave’s elaborately designed “Soundsuits.” Both explore cultural identity, ceremony, and ritual tradition in West Africa through masquerade.  

Galembo, a professor of photography at the University of Albany, State University of New York, has documented traditional and contemporary masquerade in Central and South America, Europe, and most recently West Africa. She captures each culture’s elaborate—and at times bizarre—costumes designed for weddings, burials, and other rites of passage, her subjects communicating with the audience despite their geographic and cultural distances.

Cave—a Chicago-based sculptor, former dancer with the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe, and fashion designer—creates his sculptural Soundsuits with layers of brightly colored fabrics, beads, and natural materials to express the movement and sound of masquerade. When worn, they come to life, “offering a poetic response” to Galembo’s portraits.

“The idea was to look at both the obvious and subtle threads that connect Africa and Charleston,” says Sloan. “It’s a poetic, not didactic response.” Viewers are sure to revel in the celebratory nature of this visual poetry. 

“Call & Response”
May 27-June 26, Monday-Saturday,
11 a.m.-4 p.m. and by appointment
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art,
161 Calhoun St., 1st floor

Opening Reception

Thursday, May 27, 5-7 p.m.

Co-Sponsored by Charleston magazine & Art Magazine

Festive attire encouraged, with prize to the most creative accoutrements

Enjoy wine served by Social and entertainment by Djole Dance and Drum Company

Social’s website:

Djole’s website:

Artist Talk & Exhibition Tour
Saturday, May 29,
Phyllis Galembo, 2 p.m.
Nick Cave, 3 p.m.
All events are free.

Online Exhibition

You Tube