“Mayari” by Camille Robiou du Pont at Alliance Française de Manille
In Philippine mythology, Bathala, the most supreme being, and creator of the Universe had three beautiful daughters. There was Hanan, goddess of the morning, Tala, goddess of the stars, and Mayari, goddess of the moon and ruler of the earth at night.
Mayari, the moon maiden, was enveloped in mystique and magic. Folklore narrates how she governed every human heart’s desire. A ring around the moon meant misfortune. A lunar eclipse was a foreshadowing of doom, causing even the bravest warriors to retreat. For every life-altering decision on earth, the people looked to the moon and sought the goddess Mayari’s favor.
In Camille Robiou du Pont’s latest exhibit, she sheds slivers of moonlight on humanity’s hyper-desensitized psyche. What awakens inside us when the world falls asleep? What part of our identities drifts hidden in the mindscape of dreams? The selected images in this exhibition embody the many different messages from Morpheus, the god of dreams, and why in most dreams, the message comes in the form of a woman in the wild.
For Camille, the woman in the wild depicts our identity’s innermost dimension; the heart on fire, the soul in bloom. Raw yet royal, rough yet refined, our dreams bring Mayari inside us, a spirit ruled by the moon, the soul heard through a wolf’s howl. The images call on us to be brave enough to let the wild woman swim free down our veins. Where she goes, the light goes, dancing dreamlike to the drumbeat of life.
“Magic and mystery will save us.” Camille believes in this certainty. “We don’t always have to understand everything. We just need to feel and allow our soul to travel, feel the perfume of beauty, and see the invisible worlds within us.”
After this exhibit, we are called to question whether our daydreams are just daydreams. What if they are portals into the world where the wild women swim free? The next time you look at the moon, look for the shadow of her face and set your gaze on Mayari.
Through the presence of water in her stills, Camille hopes to impart the same soothing feelings of security and protection she feels around the ocean. “I find this aspect on the island and underwater, prompting us to reconnect with our roots and ourselves through nature and the ocean–an experience of which I am becoming more and more aware, a need to be with nature and the aquatic element. Here we are allowing nature to occupy it’s place; not trying to twist it, but merge into it, bathe there.” There is therefore a double dimension in Camille’s work: a dreamlike part, where the bodies seem to aspire to desires for evanescence, lightness, bodies melted in the matter of the ocean, and, in hollow, a testimony of a lost beauty, of an impossible re- turn to nature, in these spaces ravaged by climatic disorder and the thirst for tourism.
Camille then testifies, implicitly to this ecological emergency, the urgency to appropriate the world and to know the paradise an island can and must be. It’s about wild nature, and how through this nature, we find the dreamlike, imaginary journey that I want to offer people.”
Underwater photography fascinates Camille Robiou Du Pont, and allows her to play between the dualities of real and imaginary. She likens it to being cut off from the world, where she can create the otherworldly, dreamlike images the artist is known for. The artist believes the essence of the divine feminine lies in deep connection with Mother Nature — “I wanted to reconnect with the roots of nature and the ocean, by featuring the female body in nature, showcasing how it can awaken our senses: smell, sight, and touch. I see no separation between the woman I am photographing and her surroundings–they are one, as the woman lives inside nature.”
This series is an invitation for women to take a deep dive into the most vibrant, emotive, sense of themselves, between light and shadow, to reconnect with their feminine, unapologetically fierce, ever-changing, nature. Through a flowstate of authenticity, other dimensions are unlocked, and it is through embracing this abyss of continual change, evolution and self acceptance that we find luminous freedom.
Text and photos courtesy of Alliance Française de Manille.