Press Release - For Immediate Release
Launches with Exhibit and Book Signing Spotlighting
BowHaus’ Digital Services for Publishers and Photographers
LA Contemporary Gallery
Thursday, May 17th at 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m
Swahili Chic: the Feng Shui of Africa, a new coffee table book distributed by RANDOM
HOUSE, will be launched on Thursday, May 17th with a Photo Exhibit and Book Signing by
author/photographer Bibi Jordan at the LA Contemporary Gallery on La Cienega Blvd. #3 in
Culver City on Thursday, May 17th at 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
The exhibit and book signing reveals a side of Africa rarely seen: the gracious lifestyle
of the Swahili patricians long hidden from the public eye by their penchant for privacy.
Although well-known in academic circles, high walls barricading the Swahili coral
townhouses have long thwarted photographers’ attempts to document East Africa’s
2,000-year-old architectural style.
"My knowledge of Arabic –considered a sacred language by the Swahili – provided the
password that gave me entry into their secret world," Jordan explains. "But it
was only by working in partnership with BowHaus that I could throw light on the Swahili
As a photographer working solo, traveling light and maintaining a low profile, Jordan
photographed using only available light. The challenge was compounded by the layout of
Swahili houses which relies primarily on the front atrium courtyard to illuminate the
interior rooms, a progressive series of recessed ‘galleries’. Within the depth of the
house are the most private, ‘sacred’ rooms reserved for the women. Windows are a few narrow
slits that provide ventilation but maintain a cool temperature.
"To explain the ‘feng shui of Africa’, it was critical to reveal these inner chambers,"
Jordan said. Swahili houses have a distinct layout based on spatial orientation and an
‘axis of intimacy’. The public or ‘male’ areas of the house are towards the street whereas
the private or ‘female’ areas are tucked deep within the house. These are sacred
sanctuaries covered with exquisite coral carvings designed not only to compliment the
beauty of Swahili women but to overcome the inherent oppression of the dim, narrow
dimensions of the room.
"As a woman photographer, I had the unique chance to document these sanctuaries of
simplicity, sensuality and spirituality," Jordan continued. "But without
the services of BowHaus I couldn’t have thrown any illumination on this subject."
The publisher requested that photographs be shot with film so the first task was to scan
the transparencies. "I wanted to maintain control over the digital scans and
corrections and so I researched who was the best digital lab in the area," Jordan
stated. "My publisher prints their books in Asia. They insisted on doing the
scanning there, too, until they saw the quality and price quote from BowHaus."
"As a photographer, the pay-off to me was the ability to work side-by-side with
BowHaus on the digital corrections," Jordan said. "There is a certain quality
of light in the Swahili Stone Towns that I wanted maintained in the digital images.
I wanted to bring up detail in the shadows without loosing the mystical feeling of
"The reviews that I’ve been receiving are a testimony to the skill and sensitivity of
BowHaus," Jordan notes. Carol Beckwith and Angela Fischer, authors/photographers of
African Ceremonies and African Adorned praised the book for ‘so accurately capturing the
ethereal quality of the light of the Swahili Stone Towns’. Renowned Kenyan conservationist
and paleontologist, Richard Leakey, said the Stone Towns were ‘illustrated brilliantly’.
Space Magazine Editor Holly Richardson said the book was "a ‘must-buy’ for designers,
travelers, and lovers of world culture.’
"BowHaus was the perfect partner," Jordan continued. "In spite of a
near-impossible deadline, they completed the job on-time and exceeded my expectations.
Because of the superb quality of their work, I was offered a photo exhibit at the William
Grant Art GAllery even before the book went to press."
BowHaus produced a series of True Black and White fine-art prints. "Master Printmaker Joe Berndt worked with me using BowHaus’s proprietary software to create an ink formula that successfully
projected my vision of luminous prints glowing with an inner spiritual light.
BowHaus True Black and White prints are works of arts, so it’s important to me that they are produced with
BowHaus’s signature formula using a new generation of pigment inks."
"The print collection enhances events that I can organize. I’ve moved beyond
book-signings and author chats to photo exhibits in art galleries." Jordan adds.
"Because it has more profit potential than publishing, I’m now able to offer
photo exhibits as fund-raisers for non-profit organizations."
The book launch at the LA Contemporary Gallery, for example, is a fundraiser for the
Rwanda Institute of Performing Arts. This project has been spearheaded by Jackie Karuleta
Kakiza who worked as a subject-matter expert and Swahili stylist with
Jordan on Safari Chic: the Feng Shui of Africa. "Working with Jackie, I saw
how effectively she worked in her capacity as Los Angeles Trade Representative for Rwanda,"
"I was also impressed by the performances of the Rwanda Dance Troupe that Jackie
founded to assist Rwandan exiles in California. I was surprised that I had never seen
these exquisite folk dances before until Jackie explained that genocide and AIDS had wiped
out many of the Rwandan artists. That is why she is spearheading the establishment of the
Rwanda Institute of Performing Arts in Kigali, Rwanda."
"With the recent success of a number of films on Rwanda released by L.A. studios,
many people wonder how to help this country recover from a tragedy largely overlooked by
America. We hope that L.A.’s entertainment community will embrace this movement to use
Arts to Heal Rwanda (AH, Rwanda). I’m grateful to BowHaus for creating an opportunity
for me to use my art to ‘pay-forward’ the people of my colleague who contributed
signigicantly to the creation of Swahili Chic: the Feng Shui of Africa."
For more information, visit www.bibijordan.com.