Pembe, Opening

Pembe, Opening

A cow horn, used as a container to store medicines and potions for genital cutting, Dodoma, Tanzania, 2017.

Scan of a Platinum-palladium print on Reich CT48 Translucent paper,
from an 8×10 inch negative
Printed 2018
10″x8″

This is the tenth 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.


“…So blind and so mysteriously secret!
They’ll long outlast our oblivion;
And never know that we are gone.”

— Jorge Louis Borges, ‘Things’, trans. by Tony Kline

Not only things, but shapes. The language of things, whispering and mysterious only because we don’t pay attention, is in shapes (form follows function). We know shape as communications. And like all languages, shapes affect the way we think, the way we understand, the way we control and are controlled.

The shapes of all things combined is a round. O. Around.

This large roundness, extinguishing everything, yet appearing out of an infinite promise of light, speaks of relationships and branches larger than any one of us. It speaks of more than the territory of body and self. And there, right there in the depths of darkness, is the loss of territory. It is terror.

All around, the lightness, the joy of community, of web, warp and weft. All around is a fabric, made of only one kind of thread; belonging in community means to be controlled, to be shaped into a thread. To step away from terror requires a loss of self.

But, to step into terror is loss of self. We are all wrapped up in the fog of duality, blind to the secret.

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