|Photo © Jean-Claude Moschetti - All Rights Reserved|
Jean-Claude Moschetti's photographs in Magic On Earth is about these African occult traditions where masks are considered to be mediators between the living world and the supernatural world of the dead, ancestors and other entities.
He tells us that in Burkina Faso, these masks represent protective spirits that can take animal forms or can appear as strange beings. These spirits watch over a family, clan or community, and if the rules for their propitiation are followed correctly, provide for the fertility, health, and prosperity.
The word Egungun signifies all types of masquerades or masked, costumed figures worn by the Yoruba people, and which are connected with ancestor reverence, or to the ancestors themselves as a collective force. The Yoruba is an ethnic group of Southwestern and North central Nigeria as well as Southern and Central Benin known as the Yorubaland cultural region of West Africa.
Amongst the Yoruba, the annual ceremonies in honor of the dead serve as a means of assuring their ancestors a place among the living. They believe the ancestors have the responsibility to compel the living to uphold the ethical standards of the past generations of their clan, town or family. The Egungun are celebrated in festivals, known as Odun Egungun, and in family ritual through the masquerade custom.
Jean-Claude Moschetti has photographed his Egungun series in four different countries; Benin, Burkina-Faso, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. He plans to continue this series throughout the African continent.
Born in France, he studied at the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de Diffusion, en Belgique, and worked in the movie industry. He worked as a freelance photographer/photojournalist since 1995.
His work appeared in Le Figaro, Libération, Le Monde, GEO, Les Echos, Le Point, L’Express, La Vie, Capital, Challenges, L’Expansion, L’Usine Nouvelle, Moniteur duBTP, Liaisons Sociales, LSA, Que Choisir, Forbes Magazine, Financial Times, among others.