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Chick Cause Célèbre
Mike Gorman
SAT 10/16
When the heart of the artist is enhanced by the mind of the sociologist, art is informed by an intellectual meaning not necessarily tied to visual qualities. In her new book Celebrating Women, Paola Gianturco trains her lenses on the feminine half of humanity. In her vision, women take on iconic proportions even while just at play. Over the last five years Gianturco has traveled to fifteen countries to experience the ways in which different cultures celebrate womanhood. With text and photographs, Gianturco describes her journeys and sometimes gets involved in the activities of her participants. The events range from the solemn to the comedic, the traditional to the modern, but they always represent women expressing pride in being themselves. Seventeen festivals, competitions, parades, dances and other activities are represented in the book. In Thailand, dancers are willing to prostrate themselves on flooded streets to honor the memory of Ya Mo, the sword-wielding matriarch who saved the town. Finns enjoy a competition where couples vie for the wife's weight in beer ... but first the husbands must carry their wives upside down on their backs. The occasionally charming clash of modernity with tradition is no better represented than in Swaziland. After the Reed Dance, the practically naked dancers (tens of thousands of virgins) quickly pull out cell phones from behind the tiny amount of clothing they do wear to resume contact with the world. Even the controversial Miss America pageant gets its positive due. Paola Gianturco deserves celebration herself. Her work has been displayed in the United States Senate, the Field Museum in Chicago, and the United Nations. She's also worked with the Association for Women's Rights in Development, taught at Stanford University, and is the president of her own company. Tonight at 7:00, she will give a slide presentation from Celebrating Women at Books And Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408. -- Margaret Griffin

Photograph of Mazu Festival, China


copyright 2004 Paola Gianturco