Without doubt Leni Riefenstahl represents one of the biggest challenges to a Western interpretation of cultural icons. Here we have a woman who is unprecedented in her combination of archaic clout and contemporary relevance. Riefenstahl, the director and master mind behind the influential Triumph of the Will, the defining propaganda video piece of the Third Reich, delivers her vision and succinct influence seamlessly and under the guise of supreme flow. She carries her agenda and mask of political apathy so seamlessly, that the more self-aware recipient questions the strict psychological inquiry being under took by Riefenstahl. "Fascist aesthetic" is something thrown around too effortlessly, but here is an example of a continued dedication to one of the defining social persuasions of the 20th century.

This may seem heavy-handed, considering The Last of the Nuba, a photography book depicting the culture of Sudan's Nuba people, was published decades after the decline of Hitler's Germany, but the subtext reveals an interesting foray into the Western psyche. Not only does the viewer find fascism's idiosyncratic obsessions and partialities embedded in the crop of Riefenstahl's Sudan, but we understand the unique historical interpretation of the male as the ultimate point of reference. Where Hitler was insufficient in every one of his own defining criteria for society at large, Riefenstahl too expects, epitomizes, and closely adjusts her lens on the male figure, the Athenian Almighty.

To begin understanding Leni Riefenstahl's seminal photography book, I suggest reading Susan Sontag's essay regarding this monograph, Fascinating Fascism. Below I've included my own edit of the book, to overstate my claims of the fascist aesthetic perpetuated by Riefenstahl and her domain, being deeply routed in the male Olympian. The Last of the Nuba is broken down into five chapters, superficially presenting the pretense of a National Geographic-type inquiry into an African culture. I've included both a page from the text introducing each chapter, and a scan of a photo page following the text.

The introduction ingeniously states:
"She felt the warm movement of the air. Human figures of an intense blackness approached her out of the bright light. She was already beginning to feel the magic that the Dark Continent was to have for her."



Text and Compilation by Daniel Shea




Chapter One: Land and People




Chapter Two: Harvest



Chapter Three: Zariba


Chapter Four: Wrestling


Chapter Five: Death