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Anima  and Animus 

anima: Latin: life, a living being, living; breath; soul; mind
The Efe are one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes on earth and live in the heart of deep Africa at its center, just below the equator. Their Eden is the fabled Ituri Rain Forest located in the Congo Basin about a thousand miles from either coast. The Efe introduced me first hand to their animist beliefs during my stay with them in 1988 and 1989. I was immediately fascinated by what I learned: that nature could be viewed not only as alive but as an integrated bio-system connecting everything that breathed to everything else in the environment. The Efe didn’t think of themselves as separate or a part from Nature, they were Nature, along with the trees, flutter of butterfly, creatures, winds, rainsoil: everything that is in the forest, is the forest, including the people that live there. 
The Efe shared their knowledge of tree and plant spirits, water and wind spirits, and spirits of the animals they hunted, thanked and celebrated. They brought me to visit grave sites where trees soared through the canopy and explained: “when we die, we are buried with a sapling planted at each shoulder and each hip returning us to the forest spirit, our mother and father.” The forest spirit is called Shatani and represents both the masculine and feminine principals that influence the natural world. The Shatani encompasses everything: both the creative and the destructive powers behind nature.

The Anima Sequence includes both the Anima and Animus prints and will eventually include 3 dimensional figures.  This series was inspired by my experiences with the Efe and is a conceptual representation of animist beliefs I’ve encountered throughout my travels. Animists see the world of nature as alive: possessing spirits, breath, soul and is at onceinterconnected and dualistic, possessing both masculine and feminine spirits that inhabit all things.
For the purposes of this series, Tuareg women are stand-ins for Anima: their figures represent the creative, internal, contemplative and yielding dimensions of the feminine principal. The Karo warriors from the Omo Valley are stand-ins for Animus: the male aspect of spirit that engages strength and powerthat which is aggressive, mental, confrontational and destructive. 
Seen together Anima and Animus become the sum of Shatani or the duality inherent in both the world of Nature and within ourselves. They are intended to represent original spirit whose breath stirred and brought life into the world.

Elisabeth  Sunday

Anima #10 © 2009
Anima #4 © 2008

Animus #1 © 2011

Animus #3 © 2011


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AFRICA VII: The Akan Fisherman, 2009-2011

Note about this series: The Akan Fishermen have been fishing the shores of West Africa over hundreds of generations.  I met six Akan fishermen along the shores of the Gold Coast in 2009. After talking a while, they began to express concern over the declining fisheries. They fish by night from handmade canoes using only lines and small nets. I asked the men if I could photograph them and they agreed. I urged them to express their love for the sea by using the fish they capture as metaphor in the way they hold them. They chose the fish and made their own poses understanding that their body language and expressions would tell their story. I photographed the same men in 2010 and again in 2011. This last March of 2011, they were much more comfortable with the camera and their deep connection to the sea  and to themselves is fully evident.