Wow, Vero! I *love* this piece (the Ibibio colonist headdress/puppet).
Fantastic! It's one of the best examples of the type I've seen: what I love
in particular is the way the image manages to be *both* ridiculous *and*
terrifying. What a magnificent indictment of imperial pretension. If only it
still had the lower jaw.
I have to say you sell it short, though. French museums might perhaps be too
snobby to display a sculpture like this as anything but "ethnography," but my
guess is an American art museum would be happy to include it in a gallery
of "traditional African sculpture." The DeYoung museum in San Francisco, for
instance, features several "colonial" objects; yours would fit right in.
This fact, however, reveals a fundamental difference in sensibility. Where
Americans are often extremely self-conscious about the crypto-racist notions
of "primitivism" that underpin the orthodox definition of what
constitutes "traditional" African art, and hence have spent the last couple
decades calling that definition into question -- albeit with less than total
success -- Europeans, in my experience, tend to be much more comfortable with
old ways of thinking. Yes, in France they are now called "arts premiers"
instead of "arts primitifs," but the way of seeing, at least among the high-
flying collectors, curators and grands connaisseurs, seems to remain
Here are the poor remains of a puppet or a headdress.. who knows ? of a
colonist. Same comments : not traditional but authentic (i believe -
otherwise, my whole respect to the "Cameroonian" who is able to fake in that
way). The colonist has not lost his moustache but half of his big mouth,
his "crown" and mirrors, and his body if he ever had one.
.... and i will not throw it in the fireplace, even if i'm freezing.
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