The inherent purity of the colour white elicits notions of innocence and virginity yet the intrinsic nature of white is essentially an illusion, its essence an enigma. White is loud yet evokes a sense of tranquillity; white is chaotic yet triggers a sense of stillness. In some cultures, white is death while in others, white represents light.

In Santería, the religion of the Afro-Caribbean Lucumi people that emerged in the Spanish Empire among slaves of West African origin, the colour white is used to recognise initiates. ‘Santería’ is a Spanish word meaning ‘worship of saints’. The religion is a blend of Yoruba (Nigeria) doctrine, Roman Catholicism and Amerindian beliefs. Once an initiation is complete, the Bride of the Saints must adhere to a strict regimen of wearing all white and avoid physical contact with those who are yet to be initiated. In this fashion, white becomes a symbol of purity and modesty acquired through a rite of passage. White cleanses the Lucumi from their tormented past of slavery and proclaims them born anew, free.

The white of Santería was the muse behind the work of Mariano Vivanco and stylist, Jimi Urquiaga, in their shoot for, celebrating the fusion that is Santería: Western and African, past and present. They flawlessly capture the stoicism and rhapsody of the colour white in a series of enchanting images featuring models Ajak Deng, Alicia Burke, Achok Majak, Duckie Thot and Saul Rodriguez.

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Photography by Mariano Vivanco for
Creative Consultant – Stefania Alafaci
Stylist – Jimi Urquiaga
Hair – Joey George (Streeters New York)
Makeup – Niki M’Nray (The Wall Group) using Nars Cosmetics
Nails – Mei Kawajiri
Video – Kloss Films (Brydges MacKinney)
Digital Tech – Marcus Donates
Photo Assistant – Tomas Hein, Mario Torres, & Tyler Kufs
Stylist Assistants – Noah Diaz & Jonathan Clizaola
Hair Assistant – Rena Kobayashi | Makeup Assistant – Riley Kate Nelson
Models – Ajak DengAlicia BurkeAchok MajakDuckie Thot, and Saul Rodriguez


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