What made you decide to start with the Suri tribe?
The Suri tribe is not the beginning as I have photographed previously other tribes in Ethiopia, Angola, as well as the Eagle Hunters in Mongolia. However, the Suri tribe is one of the most artistic and colorful, with never-ending creations when it comes to decorating themselves. In my eyes, they are the avant-garde of the tribal world and their imagination and creativity is one that I cannot stop admiring.
The tribe resides on the border between Ethiopia and South Sudan in an area that remains isolated, untouched by tourists due to the location, lack of amenities, and due to tribal conflicts. With no Western influences, the Suri tribe managed to create their own “Code of Beauty and Fashion,” using only a few elements from Mother Nature. They use colors from crushed rocks to paint their bodies and faces, while flowers, fruit, and branches are used for their hair decorations. Body art is used to connect the people of the Surma/Suri tribe to their surrounding natural environment; it is believed in the tribe that if you are connected to your land you will live a long and prosperous life.