BOZAR show: “TIMBUKTU RENAISSANCE”

Some of my photographs from 333 Saints will be in a slideshow in the exhibition “Timbuktu Renaissance” at the BOZAR museum in Brussels.

The show will be up from : 12/19/14-02/22/15

The exhibition includes some of Timbuktu’s ancient manuscripts as well as information on the traditions that surrounds these beautiful works of historic, religious, cultural, and artistic importance.

LEARN MORE: http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=15570&lng=en

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Interview published in Photo-Eye

The Photo-Eye Blog just published an interview with me on the making of my books.

I think it’s a pretty good read!

http://blog.photoeye.com/2014/11/interview-alexandra-huddleston-on-east.html

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A Short Update of News From Mali

I know that the news from Mali is often buried under other headlines these days.  So, I’ve put together this update for those of you who are interested, but may not have the time to seek-out these articles yourself!

You can read the update here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1101472817/333-saints-a-life-of-scholarship-in-timbuktu-book/posts/1060032

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Limited Edition “1 Print + 1 Book” Set launched for “333 Saints”

The holidays are coming soon and beautiful books and prints make great presents! 

So, the Kyoudai Press has decided to issue two of the black and white photographs from “333 Saints” as special limited editions.

Each photograph has been printed on archival Hahnemuhle Paper by Alexandra herself (and signed and numbered, of course).

Only 6 prints of each of these image are available in this size (8.5 by 11 inch paper size) and as part of the special “1 print + 1 book” set.

You can see the two chosen print below.

You can purchase the set through the Kyoudai Press bookstore.

 

In Koranic school—the most elementary level in the traditional pedagogy—students learn to write and read the Arabic alphabet by memorizing and copying passages of the Koran onto wooden slates. Once the text is learned, the words are washed off with water and replaced by the next lesson.

In Koranic school—the most elementary level in the traditional pedagogy—students learn to write and read the Arabic alphabet by memorizing and copying passages of the Koran onto wooden slates. Once the text is learned, the words are washed off with water and replaced by the next lesson.

The Ziyarat, or devotions at the tombs of the ancestors and the 333 saints of Timbuktu, is a tradition influenced by Sufism. Many of the holy shrines to the city’s saints, like the one in this photograph, are UNESCO world heritage sites. In 2012, the militant Islamist groups that took over the city destroyed these shrines, calling the practice of the Ziyarat un-Islamic.

The Ziyarat, or devotions at the tombs of the ancestors and the 333 saints of Timbuktu, is a tradition influenced by Sufism. Many of the holy shrines to the city’s saints, like the one in this photograph, are UNESCO world heritage sites. In 2012, the militant Islamist groups that took over the city destroyed these shrines, calling the practice of the Ziyarat un-Islamic.

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The books have arrived!

All the books have finally arrived!

Check-out the East or West page on the Kyoudai Press website to learn more and get a peak inside the cover:

http://www.kyoudaipress.com/eastorwest

I want to thank all of my crowd-funding backers again for their support as I published the book. My work as a photographer and a publisher is often solitary, but as I prepare each reward package, I’m reminded that, in the end, it’s a collaborative effort.

Just like a pilgrimage, I may have started the journey on my own, but by the end I’m surrounded by friends.

If you want to purchase copies of the book, it is available through:

The Kyoudai Press: http://www.kyoudaipress.com/

Direct Link to the book’s page: http://www.kyoudaipress.com/bookstore/

And

The Photo Eye Bookstore: http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/index.cfm

Direct Link to the book’s page: http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZG030&i=&i2=9780986043710

All the best,

Alexandra Huddleston

PS –

My last book on Timbuktu’s tradition of Islamic scholarship can also be found on the following sites. None of my books are currently available on Amazon.

Kyoudai Press: http://www.kyoudaipress.com/bookstore/

Photo Eye: http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZF642&i=9780986043703&i2=

Page spread from "East or West"

Page spread from “East or West”

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Advance copies and a short essay…

The East or West advance copies have arrived, and they look good (in my very biased opinion)!!

The bulk shipment of the books is crossing the Atlantic from the printer in Iceland. I don’t have a precise arrival date. However, I’m currently preparing all the packing material and figuring out the postal rates so that I can start mailing books as soon as they arrive.

I know that my last few updates have been very business-like, so below is a short reflection on my pilgrimage this summer, for those of you who are interested.

All the best,

Alexandra

 

“Remembering the Marvelous”

This summer I walked the Via Podiensis in France from Le-Puy-en-Velay to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. During this pilgrimage I walked one of the longer variations that took me north to the medieval town and pilgrimage center of Rocamadour.

Enshrined in Rocamadour is a Black Virgin who sits enthroned, high up on a carved and painted wooden alter. Her chapel is small and crowded below with racks of candles and pews and crowded above with suspended red lanterns and models of the ships she has saved on stormy seas.

When I visited the chapel, I remembered Seamus Heaney’s poem “Lightenings viii” in which the monks of Clonmacnoise save a magically airborne ship whose anchor stuck in their altar. The poem is about the brief clash of two worlds, each marvelous but incompatible with the other. After they accidentally get stuck together through the ship’s anchor, it is only the act of help, of care, by the monks in releasing the anchor that allows the two worlds to move apart again without tragedy.

During a pilgrimage two marvelous worlds meet as well: the world of the pilgrimage and the world of our quotidian life. The hardest and most dangerous part of the pilgrimage is probably the end, when we leave our days of walking and return home. It’s very easy for the anchor to drag so deep it gets stuck. It can be hard to leave the life of a pilgrim and to allow these two world to float apart again, to let go of the marvelous.

But, although the anchor should be released and “the freed ship” must sail, and the man climb back “Out of the marvellous as he has known it,” the poem, the book, the photograph are the remains of the encounter. This is one of the oldest and most venerable purposes of art: to answer our need to remember the marvelous and how the encounter with it has renewed and recreated the world once again.

You can read Heaney’s poem on the Nobel Prize website:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1995/heaney-poems-3-e.html

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On press for “East or West”

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Successfully Funded!

With the help of all of our backers, the “East or West” Kickstarter was successfully funded today!

Thank you!

The book’s publication now moves forward. The proofing is finished, and all is set for the printing in early August.

You can tell those who missed the Kickstarter that they can pre-order copies of the book on the Kyoudai Press Bookstore:

http://www.kyoudaipress.com/bookstore/

However, the Kickstarter rewards, special editions, and special pricing will no longer be available.

One of the most important traditions of the Shikoku pilgrimage is that of giving and receiving osettai. Residents of Shikoku give gifts of food, tea, charms, and sometimes lodging and money to pilgrims. As representatives of the saint Kōbō Daishi, pilgrims are not supposed to refuse these gifts.

Before my pilgrimage, as a veteran traveler I had become used to strangers approaching me when they wanted something from me: to ask for money, to be my guide, to sell me souvenirs…It was a shock and an adjustment on Shikoku to be approached with gifts.

The experience fundamentally changed my outlook on the potential in human relationships. I might even say that it allowed me to accept the responsibility and humility of crowd-funding: both as a backer of other projects and as a recipient of the amazing generosity of friends and strangers.

Thank you all for your support, your osettai.

I am working hard to make a beautiful book.

Best,

Alexandra

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A little bit more about re-enchantment

My two walking pilgrimages have been, both a way to re-enchantment my life as well as a way through which to understand both the processes of enchantment and disenchantment. Elsewhere, I have written that I aim to create art that seeks to re-enchant the world, but not at the cost of naïveté, delusion, hypocrisy, or irrationalism. As such, for me the convenience store pit-stops and suburban sprawl are as important to an enchanted pilgrimage as the beautiful views and hill-top temples.

Landy and Saler put it slightly differently in the collection of essays, The Re-enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age:

“The point, however, is that these are not the only two options. There remains a third type of enchantment, unjustly overlooked, which is the modern enchantment par excellence: one which simultaneously enchants and disenchants, which delights but does not delude.” (p3 from the introduction “The Varieties of Modern Enchantment” by Joshua Landy and Michael Saler)

Citation: Landy, Joshua, and Michael T. Saler. The Re-enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2009. Print.

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100% funded today!

100% funded today! A Huge Thank You to all my backers! Still 7 days left to pledge!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1101472817/east-or-west-walking-a-japanese-buddhist-pilgrimag

A red hand points the way for walking pilgrims in Shikoku: available as a postcard as one of the rewards.

A red hand points the way for walking pilgrims in Shikoku: available as a postcard as one of the rewards.

 

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