Photographs by Phyllis Galembo

Cora_Mexico_smallNgar Ball Traditional Masquerade Dance, Eshinjok Village, Nigeria 2004India_small Haiti_green Bohicon_benin


© Phyllis Galembo

Masquerade is a survey of over two decades of work documenting masquerade events, including the best of Galembo’s works from Africa and the African Diaspora as well as never-before-exhibited photographs from Mexico and India.

Galembo’s vibrant photographs probe the questions of the evolution and survival of “traditional” mask-making practices in societies pressured by the effects of colonialism, secularization, Christianity, and Islam. In Africa, they portray participants in events ranging from a coming-of-age ritual for boys in Zambia to a Fancy Dress Festival in Ghana in which masqueraders parade as Santas, cowboys, matadors, and other everyday types. In Mexico, masks are integral to festivities that celebrate a blend of Catholicism and the precolonial religious traditions of the inhabitants of each region, from the Holy Week festival of the Cora people to the Yaqui tribe’s reenactment of the Fariseos, or Pharisees, during Lent. In Varanasi, one of the holiest cities in India, reenactments of the life of the god Rama feature actors in elaborate costumes. Sometimes entertaining and humorous, often dark and frightening, Galembo’s portraits document and describe the transformative power of the mask.

Masks hold powerful appeal not only in the religious, social, and political elements they reveal about the cultures from which they originate, but also in their inventive and striking aesthetics. The themes of disguise, mystery, tradition, and folklore inherent in Galembo’s images intrigue audiences across cultures and generations. Masquerade provides educators and enthusiasts the opportunity to engage these objects on a multidisciplinary level and link their historical significance to the present day.



Masquerade includes twenty-five 30 x 30-inch prints and six 50 x 50-inch prints.


Maske: Photographs by Phyllis Galembo
9 3/8 x 9 1/2 in. (23.8 x 24.1 cm)
208 pages
106 four-color images
Hardcover with jacket
ISBN 978-1-59711-353-3
March 2016

Participation Fee:

$8,000 for an 8-week showing. The host venue is responsible for prorated shipping and insurance. Please contact Annette Booth, director of exhibitions management.


This exhibition is available starting spring 2018.