Maricarmen Nixon installing a photograph of Medardo Verastegui Inga from Behind the Mask in the Fire and Masks exhibition at cSPACE King Edward. © J. Ashley Nixon
The Fire and Masks exhibition at cSPACE includes two sets of photographs with masks. Social Camouflage is a visual narrative of our challenged, often surreal lives in 2020. Behind the Mask is a selection of images from my book of the same name which features people from Mito, Peru, their cultural identity and living traditions played out in the performance of the Huaconada. This ancient ritual has been globally recognized by UNESCO for its intrinsic cultural heritage.
Pictures at an Exhibition
This first short film shows the installation of the photographs at cSPACE. The featured music, Pictures at an Exhibition I: Promenade, by Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, is performed by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. It’s a piece of music that I’ve wanted to incorporate into a film for a long-time. It takes me back to my school days in Keighley, Yorkshire when I first heard it performed, not by a classical orchestra but by Emerson Lake and Palmer (ELP) with Keith Emerson playing the Hammond organ, and working hard on a Moog synthesizer.
Masks and music from Mito
Although the original author of the music of the Huaconada is unknown, Jorge Chuquillanqui, the leader of Orquesta Folklórica Sinfonía Aquence, published a transcription of the music in the book Mito: Tierra de la Huaconada. “The music of the Huaconada has three tempos or movements”, he told me when I was filming the documentary La Máscara y Más (The Mask and More) in 2018-19. “It’s repeated in the second part an average of six or eight times, depending on the Huaconada performers’ choreography.”
Originally, the music of the Huaconada was only played by the tinya drum and Andean flutes (quena and pincullo). Clarinet, Andean harp, and violin were added later, followed by saxophones. The soundtrack for the following short film is an “unplugged” version, performed by Sinfonía Aquence without horns. “The Huaconada is unique in its kind, it is traditional to this town of Mito,” explained Jorge, “We can’t just misrepresent the music, it’s not allowed, we don’t have permission to merge other styles of music.”
Exhibition at cSPACE
Fire and Masks, co-produced with Angela Boehm, also features impressive, large-format photographs of recovering Canadian forests from her series The Giving Trees.
Fire and Masks is on show until March 12 at cSPACE King Edward, 1721 29th Ave SW, Calgary (just up the hill from Marda Loop High Street). Under current circumstances, cSPACE is operating “by appointment”. Telephone cSPACE at 403-476-2025 or simply turn up and buzz the Northeast doors from the parking lot to enter the building during office hours (09:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday).
An online show of Fire and Masks is hosted by Exposure Photography Festival, where you can view behind-the-scenes films and interviews about the exhibited works by Angela Boehm and Ashley Nixon.
Photobook event at The Camera Store
Ashley Nixon will be talking about his approach to making and publishing photobooks during a free online event at The Camera Store on Thursday, April 8, 2021, starting at 6:30 pm. Information about registration coming soon!