WE THE SPIRITS
Photography fine art book by Jason Gardner
Portraits of traditional Carnival masquerades from 15 countries
232pp, 127 color images
Hardback with cloth cover
220 x 265 mm portrait
GOST Books (UK), publication December 2023 (Europe), February 2024 (U.S.)
Essay by Giovanni Kezich. Field Notes and all other text by Jason Gardner
“In the heart of winter, some very ancient rituals are still performed throughout Europe to secure prosperity and good harvests. Such rituals are the original core of what today is commonly known as Carnival.” — Giovanni Kezich, Carnival King of Europe
Despite how it is often perceived in modern media, this annual event is much more than a party and parade in the streets. Dating from pre-Christian times, this celebration reveals a complex diversity of local customs intersecting with universal themes: winter and spring; life and death; light and dark; chaos and order. It’s a moment to celebrate the cycle of the seasons, excise the winter darkness, and look forward to spring.
For over 15 years, throughout 15 countries, I have visually documented the ritual and festival of Carnival, focusing on traditional, folkloric, and community celebrations, ones with few outside visitors.
“In the middle of the night, or at the break of dawn, these youngsters turn into spirits, wearing their clothes and handling their paraphernalia. This gives them authority and power since the spirits are eternal; they never change, defying the passage of time and, at least in principle, even death itself. Spirits are immortal and so become those who are wearing their robes… Clad in their paraphernalia—bells, headpieces, sticks of various description—these characters seem replete with magic, the magic of the spirits.” — Giovanni Kezich, from his essay in We the Spirits.