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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Saleswoman, Nosy Kombo, Madagascar, 2002
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Saleswoman, Nosy Kombo, Madagascar, 2002

As a tourist, I find myself confronted by vendors of all kinds. But this particular saleswoman in Madagascar incongrously stood out from the crowd. She had painted her face in a decorative pattern, becoming as colorfully embellished as the products she is selling.

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Phil Douglis27-Mar-2005 21:30
And you are very observant, Benchang. You are right. Her appearance seems incongruous to us, but to her, it is business as usual, as she blends in perfectly with her surroundings and wares. She is indeed a part of the whole and perfectly suited for it. Thank you for your gracious thought.
Benchang Tang 23-Mar-2005 12:46
Hi, Phil, I have found the vender lady's face is not congrous with us and with others outside of the picture, but I also noticed that her face is so in line with the souvenirs she was selling and the backdrop in coloour and pattern. This way she appears a part of the whole. And you didn't forget to keep some palm trees in the far back. You are a real master!
Phil Douglis23-Dec-2004 20:36
A wonderful interpretation, Mikel. She has indeed made herself into her own marketing feature -- her customers are as likely to be attracted as much by her, as by the products she sells. And that, too, is quite incongruous.
Guest 23-Dec-2004 17:34
You get to wonder who is the mask here, in fact visually this women who painted her face makes her alot more visuall even then the products she sails, but on the other hand, it gives her a certain texture that is not the one of normal common skin, in this case, she is more the selling reclame then her own products it looks like, she became her own marketing feature.
Phil Douglis02-Dec-2004 03:56
I love your phrase "impossible textures, frames, and patterns." That is what drew me to her, Clara -- she was a walking, talking, and selling incongruity in her own right. I call this "subject incongruity." The subject itself, is, as say, a seeming impossibility! It is different from "perceptual incongruity" -- which depends upon the camera itself to change normality to abnormality.
Guest 01-Dec-2004 23:46
it seems all manipulated, though i know it is how the lens captured it, such is the accumulation of impossible textures, frames, patterns between her and the fabrics there.
Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 19:40
You are right, Nut. She is looking down. She is resigned to the fact that I am taking her picture. To her, I am just another tourist who is not buying anything from her. I find the incongruity here as a cultural expression. Her face is a symbol of welcome, and it is looks very much like the things she is selling.
nut 06-Nov-2004 10:23
Abstract incongruity between human feeling and environment. Colorful environment made
me feel fresh but It gone when I saw her face. I feel like she has bad mood or maybe it's hard
to smile without destroy the white powder on her face. She want to escape from your camera
or not. I don't know but I saw her eyes look down to the ground.
Phil Douglis07-Dec-2003 02:15
Thanks, Likyin, for your comment. I don't think she objects to the makeup job -- these women seemed to take great pride in their embellishments. It is wonderful to see how this picture can stimulate the imagination in so many different ways. That is one of the great powers of incongruity. (If she is not happy, its probably because I am not buying anything!)
Guest 06-Dec-2003 10:23
It's her expression, which makes the image misunderstood, i think. Seems she's not happy with the makeup.
Phil Douglis02-Sep-2003 03:15
Thanks, Denise, for your detailed response. Her face is not disfigured -- she has painted it in a decorative pattern. Thanks to you, I've revised the caption to point this out. You are right -- the picture means something entirely different if you didn't know that she is wearing makeup.
Denise Dee01-Sep-2003 22:08
i thought that was some kind of scarring or burnt/transplant tissue on her face. which made this hard to look at, but also made it impossible to look away. compelling photo. thanks, denise
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