You can call Mario Gerth a journalist, photographer or modern-day explorer. He has traveled 65 countries on five continents and witnessed civil war, poverty, dictatorship and violence – but more often he was a guest in a world which has been characterized by graceful beauty.
Gerth photographs were shown at international exhibitions and published in countless magazines. Nowadays he works as a part-time banker in Germany and as a photographer / journalist in Africa. Currently his work has a strong focus one certain continent; Africa. Months of travel through the most remote areas has led to stunning images of a graceful world that captured the nature of the dignity and elegance of the people.
To portray the naturalness of the nomadic peoples and their lives, the globetrotter has traveled hundreds of miles by foot, by boat or jeep, in all four directions, alone or in company of his friends in search of the Africa of his young imagination – wild, but beautiful.
“The Suri pride themselves on their scars and how many they carry. The men scar their bodies after they kill someone from an enemy tribe.”
I stumbled upon his project he did on the Ethiopian Surma tribe.
“Surma or Suri (as they call themselves) are sedentary pastoral people living in south west of Ethiopia, on the western bank of the Omo river. These breeders tribal groups have a cattle-centred culture. They breed their cattle, mostly cows, on their traditional lands, located in the Omo Valley. The Suri pride themselves on their scars and how many they carry. The men scar their bodies after they kill someone from an enemy tribe. These rituals which are extremely painful are said by some anthropologists are a type of controlled violence; a way of getting the younger tribe members used to seeing blood and feeling pain. It is also a way of adapting these young children to their violent environment. The Suri also paint their bodies white for some occasions.”
The rich and vivid colors (even considering the heave presence of dark tones) are just mind blowing. It might be hard to grasp for us Westerners that something so beautiful is used for such rather violent behavior. Nonetheless Mario is one hell of a photographer and his portfolio is a photographic proof of that!