Field photography and commentary on daily life
What follows is a photo exhibition based on comments made in 2018 by villagers who live from farming and cattle raising in the highlands of Namibe province. The villagers, specially my hostess Madukilaxi, commented an album gathering field photographs from three ethnographers who have made field photography in the region between 1940 and 1995, combined with pictures from village life I made in 2012, during an 8-month stay in the same village.
Ovakay valima, ovilia viele.
Ombila yaloka, valima. Ovilia navalie. Vekute.
Ombila yaloka omañingi, ovilia vienda komande.
Ombila yaloka petupu, onğala.
The women are farming, food will come.
When it rains, one farms. When is dry, no food will grow.
When it rains well, the water will make food appear.
If there is no rain, there will be hunger.
Clockwise from top left: archival field photograph, Inês Ponte 2012. Archival field photograph from Ruy Duarte de Carvalho, 1992. Published picture by Carlos Estermann, 1970. Published picture by Carlos Estermann, 1972.
Onomgombe buenda komande.
Onomgombe bunua omande komutemba.
Onomgombe bunua omande ononthinki ambuho.
Ovanthu paka omande komutemba. Ononthiki ambuho.
The cattle went to drink water.
They are drinking water in the water tank. [top right]
Cattle drinks water every day.
People have to put water in the water tank. Every day.
Clockwise from top left: archival field photograph, Ruy Duarte de Carvalho, 1993. Archival field photograph, Inês Ponte, 2012. Archival print of published picture by Carlos Estermann, 1960.
Farm Photo Display: everyday life, photography and effects of the passage of time in the bush
In 2012 I stayed 8 months in a highland village in the Namibe province, as a host of an agro-pastoralist family, in their farm. Before leaving, I gave them copies of photographs I had taken during the stay, which I had gotten in print from the city. In 2018 I returned to the village, bringing more copies – some of which of the same pictures I had given them years before. My hosts had separated the old photos in two, between husband and wife. To avoid repetition, I asked each of them to see the previous copies. Madukilaxi, my hostess, postponed showing them to me, until she disclosed that at some point, accidentally the copies had gotten rain, and had deteriorated.
What follows is a photo exhibition based on two photoshots in 2018, temporary displays at the farm. Showing everyday and special occasions and tasks, it also invokes the passage of time. The display pays hommage to my hosts lifestyle.
Madukilaxi and her youngest daughter, Lipuleni, after attending a party at a neighbour. Original photo taken in 2012.
Kaundende cooking otchihima [flour] for dinner, covering his mother’s absence. Left: 2018 new copy. Right: Gifted in 2012.
My hosts live from domestic production, rain-fed agriculture and cattle raising. Their subsistance economy demands a daily active role of all the household members for short or longer term needs, according to the season.
Ode to Madukilaxi. Original photos taken in 2012, copies made in 2018.
Top right: Kaundende showing off his new beaded necklace Madukilaxi made him. Down left: Omukipungo fencing. Down right: the children playing with Gaugenia, their elder brother that came visiting. Original photos taken in 2012, one copy from 2012, others made in 2018.
Ode to the family
Kavakundu looking at her newborn baby, Madukilaxi taking home hay for thatching the houses roof, Kabuka playing dolls. Original photos taken in 2012, copies made in 2018.
During the stay, my hosts asked to have pictures with me. Omukipungo was the selected photographer.
Original photos taken in 2012, one copy made in 2012, others in 2018.
A process of selection: Ruy Duarte de Carvalho’s publication of his field photographs
In the early 1990s Ruy Duarte de Carvalho, during his fieldwork with Ovakuvale pastoralist communities, shot more than 1000 pictures, spread over 40 photo film strips, in B&W and colour. At the end of the decade, for one of his most ethnographic books, Vou Lá Visitar Pastores (1999), he decided to publish some of his field images. He printed an intermediary selection, around 109 images in high dual tone B&W contrast with no grey scale to use as proofs for his final selection. Vou Lá Visitar Pastores has 52 images.
By looking at his photographic production, the proofs and the final publication, we have traced Carvalho’s selection process. We applied the result in the following display – a graphic and representative edition of some of the filmstrips, signalling archived photograph, chosen proof and final selected images.