Iwajla Klinke


Iwajla Klinke travels all through Europe to take portraits of traditional, ritual dress. The portrait, of course, is of a person. But, as ritual dress is meant to do, the identity of that person is erased. Through the lengthy preparations, with the attention on the details, the person itself is forgotten, and the idol emerges.


Each detail has meaning - a ribbon of a particular color, shape and size with a particular placement represents a specific detail that, repeated solemnly throughout the years, gains ultimate importance. Usually there is one old woman in each town that knows how to put together the ritual dress, knows what each piece of clothing, each piece of lace stands for.


When Iwajla came to Sardinia, it was raining. That year, there were deadly floods that devastated the north of the island. It was more rain than had been seen in many years. But the rain also brings solitude in Sardinia. In wetter places, people are used to walking about in the rain; it can’t stop their livelihood. In Sardinia, however, everything comes to a stop and you live the island as if it were barely inhabited.

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Iwajla’s photographs are important documents - faithfully cataloguing rituals that may one day disappear. However they don’t feel like documents, just like they don’t feel like portraits. The garments become more than clothing in the careful lighting. The identity of the subject is erased as their figure becomes an icon. And what becomes amazing about her pictures is their ability to balance the importance and originality of each disparate culture represented, while at the same time cancelling out the differences between them all. If we humans do this in a small town in Barbagia, and in a small town in Poland, and even in a small town in Mongolia or North Dakota or Ghana, then - however fascinating the details and their individual significance - what really emerges is how we are all alike.


For more of Iwajla's hypnotizing work, contact Galerie Voss and Anne de Villepoix.

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