Africa is the cradle of civilisation. The motherland for us all. In these sculptures Hal wanted to honour the art of Africa from which they are inspired, rendering them in a way similar to the bronze statues of the Ancient Greek world, depicting powerful male and powerful female. Like celebrated warriors returning from battle, commemorated for all eternity.
Hal looked at Leni Riefenstahl’s book, “Africa” to achieve these masks. They are loosely inspired by images of the Nuba tribe of Kau in Sudan. For the men of this tribe they often prepare the hair with beeswax and then dusted with ochre and coloured powders. Only a kadundor, or knife-fighter, may shave off two wedge-shaped patches tapering from the temples to the back of the head.
For the women, during the extremely painful tattooing or scarification procedure, considered a sign of beauty, the girl is to betray no sign of pain. To the Nuba they view their art only in relation to their bodies. The body is regarded by them as the consummation of Nuba art.
Messel also looked closely at Leni Reifenstahl’s book “Africa”, studying the features and unique traditions of the Nuba people, from the remote and inaccessible Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan State in Sudan.
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