Friday, June 22, 2012

Kris Bailey: Red Rivulets (The Oracles of Kodungallur)

Apart from being an attorney in Northern California, Kris Bailey is a photographer who's keenly interested in South and South East Asia, and is particularly attracted to unusual rituals and religious festivals. She joined my The Oracles of Kerala Photo Expedition/Workshop™, which was her second expedition-workshop with me; the first being Kolkata's Durga Puja.

On her blog and Vimeo page, Kris describes herself as "Inspired by the stories of a young adventurer with a french accent and a cheap wooden guitar, Kris ran home from school one day and announced that she was going to live in Europe. Eight months later, wearing a cowboy hat and white bell-bottom jeans, Kris boarded a DC-10 bound for Brussels. She was 15 years old."

No longer with a hat and white jeans, she has just produced her audio-slideshow Red Rivulets, of her stills and ambient sound recordings made during the festival of the Oracles in Kodungallur. As readers of this blog probably know by now, this was one heck of an intense religious event, and Kris reveled in photographing it.

As background, the festival is called Kodungallur Bharani, and is a wild and unusual localized religious festival near Kochi. It is here that once a year the so-called Oracles of Kodungallur meet to celebrate both Kali and Shiva. By their thousands, these red-clad oracles arrive in this area of Kerala, and perform self mortification acts by banging on their heads with ceremonial swords repeatedly until blood trickle down their foreheads, then daub the wounds with turmeric.

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