This is Insightful food for thought for this week-end. Thanks Lee. _____ De: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com [mailto:African_Arts@yahoogroups.com] Em nome deMessage 1 of 4 , Jul 7, 2006View Source
This is Insightful food for thought for this week-end.
De: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com [mailto: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com ] Em nome de LRubinstein@...
Enviada: sexta-feira, 7 de Julho de 2006 13:40
Assunto: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Dispaly of Mbala
Whereas I like very much the idea of presenting re-contextualized objects in surprising, thought-provoking ways, I don't incline toward the cold functionality of the metal stand and crutch. The crutch would seem to suggest, on one hand, a very human treatment of the object, supporting the figure in the same way its human counterpart would be supported by such an implement (generally without the podium stand); however, the figure seems to be mounted as a trophy...which offers some good directions for metaphorical meanderings but doesn't please my eye. I don't believe the intent was ironic or poetic. As an aesthetic choice I don't prefer the mounting.
But the fact remains that works do travel from their indigenous settings and contexts to others quite distant and/or different from those in which they originate while their meanings and values do also change as do realities of the members of the communities from which they arise. In her book Contemporary African Art (London:Thames & Hudson, 1999), Sidney Littlefield Kasfir refers to a class of contemporary African artists and works which illustrate this tendency; she states: "New art has also developed...its formation must take place within a milieu of existing practices, producing hybrid images and reflexive content which uses or comments upon them" (Kasfir, p. 16). Examples that come to mind include the re-introduction of traditional works into contemporary installations as in the work of Georges Adeagbo (Benin); the re-formulation of traditional images in the paintings of Trigo Piula (Congo); and the transformational development of traditional forms by John Goba (Sierra Leone) . Adeagbo re-contextualizes traditional figures as elements in found-object installations; Piula paints images based on traditional forms such as pfemba and nkisi to express changing societal values and conditions; Goba produces free-standing figural forms which constitute a further evolution from Ode-lay masks which had been previously transformed in the context of mid-1970's "street theatre" in Freetown (Kasfir, p.14).
Trigo Piula, "Materna" (1984). Source: http://people.morehead-st.edu/fs/j.gritton/materna.jpg
Trigo Piula, "Ta Tele" (1988). http://people.morehead-st.edu/fs/j.gritton/tatele.jpg
John Goba's"High Tal J", 1992
115 X 95 X 65 cm
45 1/4 X 37 3/8 X 25 5/8 inches
(Click on link to see bio and additional works by John Goba and other contemporary African artists.)
Calls for repatriation of traditional objects -- even those displayed presumably with respect and honor -- underscore the idea that there is violence and transgression inherent in (or at least attributable to) the acquisition and re-distribution of African traditional objects. In this light the critical reading of a display approach such as that which can be seen in the presentation of the Mbala figure you have shared might seem relatively innocuous. That the juxtaposition of figure and crutch can elicit such associations such as those expressed by Gary and Daniel, however, serves to illuminate the potential minefield that the re-contextualization and presentation of works can create. While suggestive of possible insensitivity, the image of the displayed figure also suggests manners in which such "creative" displays may be used to generate awareness and elicit critical interpretations of the manipulation of objects and peoples in a broader social and historical context. Lee
Hello Lee. Thank you for the analysis, opinion and evidence for debate towards the display of this figure. At times, I thoroughly enjoy the dialog that thisMessage 1 of 4 , Jul 7, 2006View SourceHello Lee.Thank you for the analysis, opinion and evidence for debate towards the display of this figure. At times, I thoroughly enjoy the dialog that this group generates ... this is such a moment.People that know me rarely find me at a loss for words. With respect to the African culture and experience, although I have been there on occasion, I will certainly admit that I am quite limited about the African experience and it's unique sub-cultures. I also see myself as a novice / apprentice with many, many aspects of African culture and tribal customs. Some areas and cultures I am acquainted or have a basic knowledge of, but the more I read and elicit information, the more I learn to discern and "filter" information made available so that am apt to persuade, challenge or potentially educate individuals about the objects within my selective collection through my experiences.I realize that there is very little reason to "over stimulate" your ego --- not that perceive you seek this edification, however, you should know that you have masterfully articulated an opinion that I could not. I have given a lot of thought to Ricardo's statements, as well as the many replies generated over the past several days.I find your editorial effective, and it expresses an essence of my many thoughts reasoned --- without the burden of proof, (so-to-speak). It also "tastefully" calls to question any unfair perception(s) of how the Western World might react to African artifacts displayed in this stylized manner. I often try and rationalize "why" Africans respond in a myriad of ways when addressed the carvings and objects of their ancestors. I would suspect this might also apply to the Native American Indian tribes, Aborigines and Mongols as well as other ethnic peoples ...I would like to say, "Well done, Professor" !!Ed
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