Excerpts of Foreword by Wade Davis
the skin of the average human body was laid flat as a map, a sheet of parchment,
it would spread over twenty square feet. This fact that did not go unnoticed
by the primordial artists of the world. Had Leonardo chosen the human form
as his canvas he would have had a surface to work with four times the size
of the Mona Lisa. Fully engaged in the unexpressed yet palpable excitement
of the Renaissance, he remained focused on other possibilities of expression.
But throughout history and for the vast majority of the artists of the world
the body has always been the template of the spirit, the palette upon which
all dreams and possibilities may be realized and expressed.
The human form,
whether isolated in the forests of the Amazon, swept clean by the bitter
winds of the Arctic, or soothed by sunset rains of Polynesia became through
the brilliance of inspired artistry a map of culture and myth, a sacred geography
of the soul, all expressed by the simplicity of forms painted, carved, incised,
or etched upon the canvas of the body.
To contemplate the images in this
book, whether the living faces of Polynesia, the raised flesh of Africa,
or the erotic tensions of reinvention celebrated at Burning Man, the millenarian
gathering that blossoms each year from the deserts of Nevada, is to remember
why all peoples through all time have in the end found ways, whatever the
impediments, to seek and celebrate a transformation of the spirit.