NO ONE KNOWS WHO MADE THESE IMAGES, BUT THEY CAPTURE THEIR SUBJECTS, QUIRKS AND ALL, FOR POSTERITY
Over the years, the graphic designer John Foster and his late wife, Teenuh Foster, of St. Louis, Missouri, assembled notable collections of outsider art, folk art, and vernacular photography. Through a lively and always illuminating Instagram account (look for “@accidentalmystery”), John routinely shares photos and descriptions of favorite pieces from his holdings, as well as wide-ranging observations about art, connoisseurship, and aesthetics.
Now, with this issue’s examination of the art of portraiture in mind, he shares some gems from his trove vernacular photography (a term that refers to found photos whose creators are unknown) with brutjournal.
All of the photos presented here are portraits, albeit unusual ones. Still, each in its own way captures something of the ineffable spirit or aura of its subject, an essential aspect of portraiture that we’re exploring in this month’s issue.
by John Foster
It's always a pleasure sharing a selection of photographs from my collection with brutjournal’s inquisitive readers, a gang that really cares about and enjoys examining pictures of all kinds. Here we go!
Above: It’s quite interesting how masks can transform and create passageways to new interpretations of people’s faces, which, of course, they obscure. For thousands of years, shamans and members of tribal societies have used masks in celebratory or ritualistic ways in relation to various belief systems, both to conceal their wearers’ identities and as talismanic objects or performance props. In such instances, they serve to help channel spirits and open doors to other dimensions of psychic-spiritual understanding.
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