Jim Naughten first came across the Herero tribe when he visited Namibia fifteen years ago. He fell in love with the country and its extraordinary inhabitants, and he was particularly spellbound the first time that he saw a Herero lady sashaying across the desert in her beautiful dress outside Swakopmund.
What interested him, in particular, was the history behind the dresses and how things can get frozen in time. Their antiquated clothing was introduced by the German settlers and has since become a vital part of Herero identity, despite a dreadful war waged by the colonisers that resulted in the death of 80% of the Herero tribe.
Jim sees the dresses and Herero costume as important symbols of defiance, survival and cultural identity. In this photoshoot, he was lucky enough to work with a Herero tour guide company, which backed the financing for the project. All the people photographed also received fees, and the crew brought supplies, such as maize, coffee, sugar, to the villages where they stayed.
Jim had the chance to get to know the people and their culture very well during his three-and-a-half-month stay in their villages, and the response to his work from the Herero community has been very positive.
In the above photo, two women from the Otjigrine section of the Otruppe march alongside women from a different group in military dresses that are worn at ceremonies such as Herero Day to commemorate Herero chiefs of the past.
ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Jim Naughten is a photographic artist currently exploring themes with historical subject matter. He was awarded a painting scholarship to Lancing College and later studied photography at the Arts Institute of Bournemouth in the UK.
Naughten’s work has been widely featured in exhibitions across Europe and the US and includes a solo show at the Imperial War Museum as well as group shows at the Royal Academy of Art and National Portrait Galleries in London.
His first series, Re-enactors, was published as a monograph in 2009 by Hotshoe Books. His second, Hereros, was published by Merrell in March 2013, and his new book Animal Kingdom will be published by Prestel in April 2016.
Collections of his work are held at The Imperial War Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Honolulu Museum of Art, and many private collections in the US, UK and Europe.
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