THE CULT OF ANCESTORS
Gladieu’s EGUNGUN series provides insights into another closed-off society. In 2018, Gladieu traveled to Benin, West Africa, into the land of the Yoruba where he photographed the mystical rituals of the EGUN and their ghostly ritual masks. The EGUN is a figure that can move between the world of the living and the world of the dead and appears after the death, or in some cases the birth, of a member of the tribe. In long ceremonies, food, drink, and money are sacrificed to the EGUN, who includes these items in his ritual. It is strictly forbidden to communicate directly with the EGUN or even to touch him.
To accomplish this series of portraits of revenants, it was necessary, every time, to discuss the matter at length and pay a small sum of money for offerings to propitiate the capricious deities. The meaning of the rituals, costumes and masks must remain secret. Only initiates know the secret of the gods. To share the secrets with the uninitiated would diminish the gods. Thus it is difficult to have a comprehensive understanding of the subject, without becoming an initiate oneself.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Stephan Gladieu is represented by Olivier Castaing, owner of the SCHOOL GALLERY, in Paris and ARTCO GALLERY in Germany, Cape Town and Joshua Tree.
Stephan Gladieu’s career began in 1989 covering war & social issues, traveling across Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan) and Asia (India, Nepal, Vietnam, China, etc.).
His work began as travel features, but he became increasingly interested in using portraiture to illustrate the human condition around the world. His portraiture has included covering the Saudi Princes, Princesses in Nepal, actors & directors behind the scenes at Cannes Film Festival, politicians, intellectuals, but also everyday people the world over.
Stephan still realizes international features and portraits series for international magazines, but he is mainly focused on his personal work: the human story through colorful portrait collection.
On the side of his journalist activity, Stephan is working with private companies (LVMH, Danone, TOTAL…) and international intitutions (World Bank, UNICEF) to work on their visual identity.
Stephan Gladieu’s work is published in leading publications in France and internationally.