Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Here are a few shots from my visit to the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The Folklife Festival is held every year on the National Mall, and it is a celebration of cultures and traditions from around the world. This year’s featured country is Hungary, and the overall theme is “One World, Many Voices”. There are representatives of many indigenous cultures around the world from Hawaiian Islanders to Penobscot Indians to Quechua speakers from Bolivia and Peru to Tuvan people from Siberia. The “many voices” part has to do with showcasing efforts to preserve vanishing languages and cultures. Go to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival Official Page to learn more about the events and programs for this year’s festival.

This pavilion is part of the Hungarian exhibit – playing on traditional Hungarian crafts like lace-making and using the forms and styles in a wooden structure.

Hungarian Pavilion
Hungarian Pavilion

And here is a sculpture of a Puli shepherd dog, rendered in blackened wood. Pulis are similar to Komondor sheep herding dogs except they are black, not white. They used to get shorn along with the sheep they guarded, but now are left to grow their coats out as a fashion statement, to the impairment of the dog’s mobility.

Kuvacs Sculpture
Kuvacs Sculpture

The door of a Yurt, representing the various nomadic peoples of Siberia who are sharing their culture this year at the Folklife Festival. Yurts are traditional nomadic home structures – they are portable like tents, with canvas or fabric tops and latticework side walls.

Yurt Door
Yurt Door

Paper flowers in the Mexican pavilion:

Paper Flowers, Mexican Pavilion
Paper Flowers, Mexican Pavilion

Quechua musicians, getting ready to perform a traditional Quechua song, talking about the meaning of their indigenous language and the importance of preserving the language, to pass on the connection to their cultural traditions of respect for the environment.

Qechua Musicians
Qechua Musicians

A Tuvan instrument maker, carving the body of a lute:

Tuvan Instrument Maker
Tuvan Instrument Maker

A Tuvan stone-carver, demonstrating hand-carving techniques, making a bull out of soapstone:

Tuvan Stone-carver
Tuvan Stone-carver

These last three shots are not specifically of the Folklife Festival, but are representative of the location and the spirit of the day. The weather was quite hot, but at least we had a relatively dry day with periodic breezes (Washington DC, particularly the area of the Mall, was built on a swamp, and big chunks of the Mall area, especially west from the Washington Monument, are actually landfill. Which is why the Washington Monument is sinking very slowly. So summertime in DC can be particularly miserable – almost New Orleans-esque in its heat and humidity).

Washington Monument
Washington Monument

The sculpture is outside the American History Museum, which caps one end of the Folklife Festival and plays host to the temporary festival gift shop.

Sculpture, Cloud, American History Museum
Sculpture, Cloud, American History Museum

It was tough waiting for people to NOT be walking through the shadow of the sculpture on the pavement. I’ll have to come back and shoot this again in the wintertime when it casts a longer shadow and there are fewer people out on the plaza so I can catch it as more of an abstract piece.

Sculpture, Shadow, American History Museum
Sculpture, Shadow, American History Museum

All shots were taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, on Kodak Ektar 100 film.

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