Developing Times in Minutes

30 x 40 inch prints tray washing in the darkroom.

I spent the day making a 30 x 40 print of three women, the three principal Tuareg models from Mali; Fatima, Mana and Aichata. In this photograph, Mana is in the middle and her two friends are leaning their heads on Mana's shoulders. Fatima has her arm around Mana and Aichata on the other side, takes hold of it.

The photograph came up slowly in the developer and as I stared into it, the picture began to reveal its messages. It is an intimate portrait of friends. But the main elements that compose a traditional portrait (faces, hands, hair, eyes and bodies) in this composition are hidden from view. The friends are completely covered by their veils, and the clasped hands are wrapped in such a way as to hide the fingers. Mana's eyes are looking down, so we don't see them. The women's bodies are completely covered, yet, it is so clear this is a portrait of love, tenderness for a friend and deep caring. This is revealed through the gesture beneath the veils and desert garb; it is seen in the lilt of the head and clasp in the hand.

Elisabeth Sunday


Popular Posts