Edvard Munch and the Sooty-Cheeked Mangabey

I don't remember enough of the the particulars of Edvard Munch's biography to recall whether his angst was of purely Scandinavian distillation or if, like many artists of the time, he went on exotic journeys, which then fueled his depressive aspect. He seems most unlikely to have ever travelled to the Albertine Rift, one of the least and last visited slivers of central Africa, a mountain chain of cloud forests defining much of the Congo's eastern frontier with Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. Nonetheless, a few days ago, there in the Nyungwe Forest, I thought of him.

Had Munch come here and observed the diverse array of primate species that dwell in these dark, damp and fog-shrouded forests I am certain he would have been much taken with the Sooty-Cheeked Mangabey, an extraordinarily gloomy-looking monkey with a very long tail.

Furred entirely in dismal gray tones, the unhappy Mangabey sports for facial decoration twin charcoal black streaks under its eyes, like those worn by American Football players to protect their vision from the glare of their own rosy cheeks. (What a bizarre, pseudo-military, macho affectation--nobody does this in any other sport, do they?[Update: Yes, apparently, baseball, see comments]). Worse, the pinched and panicked look on the Mangabey's face seems to permanently express the particular grief of constipation. I hope these photographs, taken in the dim and misty depths of the forest interior, are suitably pathetic.

(Mangabey images mine, as are all uncredited photographs in these pages: Munch images hooped absolutely without permission from here, according to my own personal and constantly evolving fair use doctrine. Anyone with legitimate issues contact me and I will do my best to resolve them.)


Anonymous said...

Did you know that Munch's Scream was recently recovered? Does the S-C Mangabey give voice to its misery?

Anonymous said...

Baseball players, in particular outfielders, also sport these cheek markings for day games, though admittedly with none of the militaristic overtones.