Saturday, July 5, 2008

Bali Arts Festival 2008- part 4

It is never easy to get close to strangers as it is instinctive for everyone to preserve some measure of personal space. However, nothing is more public than a festival parade where the participants aim to entertain. In a seemingly endless stream of dancers of various colors, shape and form, there will always be those who would stand out. Getting noticed by photographers then becomes a compliment.

Here are some of my favorite portrait shots in the opening parade, marked not only by the colors, a given as this is Bali, but also by the insights into the mind of the subject in particular and to their culture in general.

One of the more fascinating candid portraits I got was this lady. That is not her hand but of a friend who was perhaps fixing a stray eyelash. The traditional eye makeup of Balinese ladies is not wanting of color. Where there is space, they will paint. Balinese dance is characterized by rapid eye movement, where the eyes are bulged out and darted side to side. Super colorful eyelids therefore add impact and Balinese dancers feel bare without the full cover of paint.

jezebel eyes
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/500s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 400

There was contingents resembling jungle men and boys. A “green” group of boys came wrapped in verdant vines and coconut leaves. One contingent of kids and men came in a full shawl of dry banana leaves creating a sea of brown movement as they glide along the road. I remember asking this guy where they are from and he said Tabanan.

Bali Arts Fest jungleman
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/30s, f/10, 39mm, ISO 200, +2/3EV

The appeal of the Festival is multigenerational. One group of warriors brandishing spears came with men of all ages, from teenagers to seniors. Their face paint of white matched well with their their garb of sacred cloth of black and white checks. Of course, there is the ubiquitous flower behind their ears. Balinese don’t find this effeminate. I’ve seen several adult men pick a flower and then tuck them behind an ear as if it is the most natural thing for them to do. It is.

Bali Arts Fest warriors
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/500s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 200, +1/3EV

Another favorite subject of mine is this man. He belongs to a troupe dressed up as the monkey army. In the beloved Hindu epic of Ramayana, the kidnapped heroine Sita was rescued by the monkey army led by its general Hanuman. The monkey is therefore venerated in Bali, as evidenced by several monkey temples and sanctuaries all over the island and the numerous statuaries dedicated to Hanuman.

monkey warrior
Canon EOS 350D Digital, 1/1000s, f/2.8, 100mm, ISO 400, +1/3EV

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