Kibuyu ‘A’

A Calabash gourd, Lagenaria siceraria, with snake skin collar and a dip stick stopper, used for medicine that is applied to wounds after genital cutting. Approximately 15cm x 15cm x 23cm, Dodoma, Tanzania, 2017.

Scan of a Platinum-palladium print on Reich CT48 Translucent paper,
from an 8×10 inch negative
Printed 2018

This is the ninth image of ‘From Where Loss Comes’, a photographic series about female genital cutting and sacrifice. The series is published here with permission from all the people portrayed in it.

A photograph documents things. Strange, then, that a photograph reveals what we imagine. This shell of a vegetable, with bits attached, looks like other things, even feels like things that were not photographed. The shell radiates outwards, like the layers of an onion. It even looks like onion skin caught in the light. The calabash is buoyed, it seems, in a blaze of light, which in turn, is afloat on blackness. Each layer seems to work against the other, all the way down to the rough snake skin against the calabash’s smooth, glazed surface, which also disappears in a reflection, disappears back to the base-white tone of the printed paper. Nothing seems clear. Except our feelings–and they, although clear, are shifting all the time.