Reverence is a project that brings together film, music and photographs of insects in a migratory museum -- a temporary structure inspired by the exquisite shape of praying mantis ootheca, or eggpod. It's called Reverence because that is the state in which I photograph and that is what I want to communicate through my work.
For ten years, I worked on a personal project in the brothels of Calcutta. I photographed the women, taught their children photography, helped get them into schools, made the Academy award-winning documentary, Born into Brothels, and started a non-profit organization, Kids with Cameras. For me, art is powerful; it changes lives.
Seven years ago, I began to have intense dreams of a praying mantis. Though I have always had a very strong connection to the animal world, I had no idea what this was about. I began to pay attention to the synchronicities and clues and soon enough I was following the path that Mantis had set for me.
I was led around the world, mostly camping alone in spectacular wild places -- from Namibia to Botswana, to Panama, to Malaysia, to Bolivia, to Australia. I met and learned from people who hold Mantis sacred, from the bushmen elder healers of the Kalahari, to modern-day shamans and martial artists. I discovered that Mantis offers great lessons.
I learned how to use macro-photographic equipment, bought a pile of black and white film and began traveling. Working at night, I walk into the forest or grasslands in search of insects. Sometimes I set up lights and see who shows up. The bugs never fail to amaze me.
I ask if they want their portraits taken and if they agree, I bring them inside my tent (or cabin or camper van). I stay up all night, working for hours with each bug, making still photos and shooting HD video. Afterwards, I thank them and put them back where I found them. It is a true collaboration based on love and respect.
Reverence is a migratory museum with photographs, film and music. Reverence explores the alien or other and our intrinsic connection with the insect world. Opening December 21, 2012, in New York City, it will continue to travel to other cities around the world.
The next stage of the project is to begin work with the architect to create a concept design for the museum. A world-renowned architect is charging his minimum fee: $50,000. I am also ready to start working with a master printmaker to develop unique large-scale photographs on handmade Japanese papers.
And I need to get back into the field -- to Southern Africa and to Malaysia -- to continue photographing and filming these unique and wonderful creatures.
WE NEED YOUR HELP...
This project has been mostly self-funded and now I need your help and support. I want to bring people face to face with insects, to confront their fears and prejudices and to challenge them to see the world in new way. Reverence will transmit the sense of awe I feel in their presence.
In gratitude, I will keep you posted on the project's progress, my travels and all the wonderful creatures I meet along the way. Please contact me directly if you would like to support Reverence through its production and travels, or if you would like to receive a tax-deduction for your contribution.
My work is a tribute to insects, to their intelligence, personality and elegant beauty. Please help honor the small beings who really run the planet and on whom our lives depend. Help me to bring their message to you.
May Mantis watch over you.
-- Zana Briski, October 2010