Tradition, Modernity and Illicit Nipples | Christopher Rimmer’s Vital Portraits of Africa’s Last Tribes

Posted by Angela Tandori on

The result of two years spent along the Kunene River, Melbourne-based photographer Christopher Rimmer’s new series is now available, despite being first shut down by Facebook. 

 

Christopher Rimmer 'Herero Woman, Namibia'

 

Internationally acclaimed photographer Christopher Rimmer’s new series ‘Confluence - Tradition & Modernity in the Last Remaining Tribes of Africa’, features striking portraits of ancient tribes-people. Now available at Angela Tandori Fine Art, these works raise pertinent questions about the pressures of modernity and inadvertently, the arbitrariness online censorship.

Among the tribes represented are semi-nomadic pastoralists, the Ovahimba people. In an accessible region, this tribe has become a popular tourist destination for Westerners. With his guide and assistant Owen Kataparo (an Ovahimba man), South African-raised Rimmer spent two years exploring this phenomena, finding that despite being well-intentioned, Western intervention can be destructive.

 

The Ovahimba people live along the Kunene River, pictured here. Christopher Rimmer spent two years along this river documenting the tribes that surround it. 

 

This problem of misconceived judgement has arisen in another way. When posted to Facebook, Rimmer’s portrait of a bare-breasted Ovahimba woman was deemed inappropriate, resulting in the removal of the cover image from Christopher Rimmer's 'Confluence' exhibition by Facebook and the photographer banned for a month.

As an online business, Angela Tandori Fine Art is also now confined by this - having to limit what works can be sold through Google shopping, Instagram and Facebook. Not only deeply inconvenient, Rimmer describes the ban as symptomatic of online gender discrimination. 

 

The offending image - Christopher Rimmer 'Ovahimba Maiden, Southern Angola'.

 

Despite Facebook’s inference that these images are obscene, they are anything but. Instead ‘Confluence‘ pulsates with pride. It captures proud peoples in negotiation with their evolving identity. Since Rimmer states they “will be unrecognisable in fifty years”, these works become vital.

Why are women's nipples still regarded as 'obscene'? Read Wendy Squire's article in The Age' on Rimmer's illicit nipples here

Confluence’ is now available at Angela Tandori Fine Art.