Grande Maison


Mischa Golebiewski was never destined to be the Golden Girl.

From a young age, she rejected the glass-ceiling of Buffalo, NY, in favour of a brighter, more inventive future in the Big Apple. Her father didn’t want her doing styling, so she went to hair-school behind his back. Her teachers criticised her. She fought her corner every time. While her colleagues made easy-bucks on MidWest supercuts, she was perfecting with razor work and Bouffant styling. With a background in clowning, a love of drag culture and the occasionally short temper, Mischa G. had her sights set higher. Destination: the centre of the sun.


Central to Bruce’s decision to leave was the fact that these were people who still had an authentic connection to their native land, to nature. As David’s work with this sensitive culture developed, he became increasingly moved by a people who were not divorced from the world around them. “The Bushmen lived, not outside the realm of nature, but as part of nature.” David Bruce explains. “In my experience, their relationship with animals were at times mysterious, defying logic, where each plant and each animal has its own being, its own life and purpose, which the Ju/‘hoansi Bushmen are a part of.”

Although far from the technological age David had left behind in London, the Ju/’hoansi were nonetheless under threat of being swallowed by the modern world. In 2007, having observed the indigenous people for 30 years, David Bruce collaborated with a Ju/’hoansi native /Ui Kunta to set up the Ju/’hoansi Development Fund. A grassroots project to protect their culture traditions, and allow their connections with their ancestral land to grow. David has since inherited that same love for the wilderness.

Kx a o Da b e - ! o’ a n a / a’ u

Bruce’s ‘Ju/’hoansi Bushmen of the Kalahar’ collection is the pinnacle of this long relationship with the indigenous North Namibian culture. These fifty photos, taken over 26 years, were produced by 31 Studio in Gloucester/UK, using a 19th Century Platinum Printing technique that produced some of the earliest anthropological prints in history. The effect is startlingly vivid, monochromatic detail. The words of Canadian photojournalist Ted Grant come to mind when viewing David Bruce’s work: “when you photograph people in black and white, you capture their souls.” However, in this case the Ju/’hoansi soul has not so much been captured by David’s lens, as it has been given room to grow; and the authentic relationship they cultivated together over 25 years shows that David Bruce does not take photos, he gives; he does not watch, he listens.

Written by Oisin Fogarty Graveson
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