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The Village is Tilting: Dancing AIDS in Malawi

Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia:
Vancouver BC – Feb 6-Sep 3, 2007

Douglas Curran - Atsale Adzamange ("May the Survivors Prevail")

Douglas Curran, Atsale Adzamange ("May the Survivors Prevail") (2006), photograph [Museum of Anthropology, University of BC, Feb 6-Sept 3]

One of the unique characteristics of Chewa culture among the southern African tribes is the transformation of their masked spirit entities into new characters as a sign of changing social conditions. Among other cultural signifiers, the Chewa mask is a means of integrating and adapting to the cultural collisions that have been impacting them for hundreds of years. This exhibition focuses on the incorporation of AIDS-related themes in their masks and dances.

Douglas Curran - Kondola (The Braggart)
Douglas Curran, Kondola (The Braggart) (2005), photograph [Museum of Anthropology, UBC, Vancouver BC, Feb 6-Sept 3]

The Village is Tilting: Dancing AIDS in Malawi presents a series of powerful masks, video interviews, dance footage and life-size photographs (up to 40 x 80 inches) that document the effects of AIDS on rural Malawians. The masks reflect aspects of migrant labor, the effects of a cash economy, the sexual mores of the Chewa and the impact on community relations as a result of AIDS disease and deaths. In addition to the videos, photographs and masks, a three-day public dialogue will examine AIDS in relation to African education, economic development and cultural identity.

Vancouver-based photographer Douglas Curran, who has travelled to central Africa for ten years to record the secretive and mystical world of Gule Wamku, curated the exhibition. In conjunction with the show, Curran will speak about Chewa cosmology Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 pm at the Museum of Anthropology.

Mia Johnson

 Mon, Feb 5, 2007