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Pinar Yolacan: Maria

by Phuong-Cac Nguyen in Culture on 02 December 2007

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Poignant, compelling and startling, artist Pinar Yolacan's photographs of Afro-Brazilian women living on the northern Brazilian island of Ithaparica and dressed in clothing she created from animal insides and fabric are the focus of her 22-piece show at Rivington Arms, which just opened in New York last week.

Yolacan cast women from the ages of 27 to 90 as her subjects after being inspired by the culture and people on the island, which sits almost 45 minutes away from Salvador, a major northern Brazilian city. Salvador's pained history as the biggest port for the slave trade during Portuguese colonial times has given it an unexpected, wonderful result: it's become one of the country's most culturally rich and fascinating areas, giving rise to a population whose individual faces show the long stories behind them.

Yolacan bought her materials, of which animal placenta most interested her for its symbol of birth, from Salvador's São Joaquim market. She constructed the Baroque- and Portuguese-colonial style dresses and overlaid animal parts on top. It takes a second look to realize the shiny accoutrements are flesh —they look like natural parts of the outfits adding a strange beauty.

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This isn't the first time Yolacan has dealt in this raw medium. Her first show at the gallery featured photos of elderly women wearing apparel made from chicken skin. Beginning 14 December in Helsinki, her work will be on display at the Finnish Museum of Photography too.

Maria
29 November 2007-2 January 2008
Rivington Arms
4 East 2nd Street, 1st Floor
New York, NY 10003 map
tel. +1 646 654 3213

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