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2838Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

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  • satan luci
    Jan 15, 2008
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      If you look up the item number 220 1899 11486 on ebay
      you will see an almost identical bronze statue than
      the one shown in 'masquerade'. Gerald
      --- Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...> wrote:

      > A number of questions are prompted by the
      > contributions offered thus
      > far in considering this issue. Some of these
      > questions that come to
      > mind pertain to the need for clarification regarding
      > just how the
      > objects in the exhibition from which this
      > conversation stems are
      > indeed being framed and presented. I myself have
      > not seen sufficient
      > information to understand fully what claims have
      > been made regarding
      > the authenticity of works or what definition of
      > authenticity has or
      > has not been applied to the works presented in this
      > exhibition. Does
      > anyone have further information?
      > Also, more generally, in seeking to distinguish
      > between "African art"
      > and works "'inspired by African art'," where is the
      > line drawn, and
      > by whom? By what criteria are these lines drawn to
      > validate or
      > disqualify works created in Africa by African
      > artisans as authentic
      > African art? While I do recognize that one may
      > wish to
      > differentiate between authenticated ritual objects
      > and reproductions
      > thereof, this distinction regarding ritual
      > authenticity is not one
      > and the same as the distinction regarding that which
      > is authentically
      > African. Authenticity does not by all definitions
      > exclude modern
      > reproductions as part of the broader field of
      > African art. The
      > complexity of the issue and the range of sub-fields
      > within African
      > art production make this a challenging endeavor
      > indeed. A good
      > illustrative instance that speaks to this point is
      > the confusion that
      > equates age with authenticity. The continued
      > creation of ritual
      > objects that satisfy the requirements of ritual
      > authenticity -- but
      > which do not adhere to the age requirements that
      > constitutes the
      > preferred definition of authenticity held by some --
      > occupy an
      > ambiguous, contested terrain. Artistic production
      > as an expression
      > of evolving cultures and societies both changes form
      > and integrates
      > new media. As a case in point, I invite respondents
      > to consider and
      > classify the paintings presented in these articles
      > previously shared
      > by Moyo:
      > and
      > http://www.universityofafricanart.org/Image/Text/
      > beautifiers3.pdf. Although markedly divergent from
      > the form broadly
      > associated with "classical" imposed definitions of
      > African art, does
      > one -- and if so, on what basis does one --
      > disqualify the ritually
      > authentic works from the body of authentic African
      > art when the
      > ritual context in which they are created is indeed
      > documented?
      > Another significant question (or complex of
      > questions) pertains to
      > the issue of where misidentification and
      > misrepresentation
      > originate. As committed as I am to the pursuit of
      > Truth -- and to
      > the clarification of which Truth is being defended
      > at any given
      > moment, I can't help but to seek an understanding of
      > the motivations
      > behind reproduction and to underline once more the
      > ambiguities of
      > intent which are often attached to the creation of
      > reproductions.
      > Among the most interesting situations to consider in
      > this regard is
      > the discussion of the Konaté blacksmith clan
      > provided by Christopher
      > Roy in the essay "Centers of Style of African
      > Sculpture" in Art and
      > Life in Africa: Selections from the Stanley
      > Collection, Exhibitions
      > of 1985 and 1992. Roy recounts the history of these
      > carvers now
      > residing in Ouri, Burkina Faso. The Konatés in Ouri
      > are of Mande
      > origin and migrated in preceding generations from
      > the Mandé area of
      > Mali to Ouri, Burkina Faso via Kapo (a Bobo village)
      > and Ouakara (a
      > Bwa-Marka-Dafing town) and continue to carve masks
      > in Ouri for mask-
      > owning clans of neighboring villages of the Nuna,
      > Marka Dafing, Ko
      > and Bwa. (One member of the family migrated further
      > to Nouna and
      > carves for Bwa and Bobo-Fing clients in that area of
      > northwestern
      > Burkina Faso). The point to which I am leading are
      > illustrated
      > through these passages:
      > "Not only does the Konaté family in Ouri produce
      > objects for five
      > major neighboring groups, they also produce large
      > numbers of masks
      > for the tourist trade in Ouagadougou. They refer to
      > these as
      > 'copies,' and are able to distinguish clearly
      > between traditional
      > masks for use by local villagers, and tourist
      > 'copies to be sold in
      > Ouagadougou. They distinguish between them on the
      > basis of style,
      > quality, and whether or not the necessary sacrifices
      > were done during
      > the carving process -- sacrifices which make a
      > traditional mask
      > function effectively." (p. 5)
      > "The active Konaté sculptors are able to distinguish
      > the
      > characteristics of the five styles in which they
      > carve, and will
      > point to the foliate patterns that radiate from the
      > eyes of a Nuna
      > mask, or the diamond-shaped mouth of may Ko masks,
      > as characteristics
      > of a particular tribal style that must be included
      > to satisfy their
      > clients. Nevertheless, their work is very
      > homogenous in terms of
      > proportions, composition, color and technique... few
      > casual
      > spectators can tell them apart. In the past six
      > years, numerous
      > scholars of African art, involved with public or
      > private collections
      > that include masks from the area, have called me to
      > seek help
      > identifying the styles of groups in this area.
      > Although the Konaté
      > can identify the styles they carve, the
      > characteristic patterns are
      > so subtly different that few people outside of the
      > area can
      > distinguish Nuna masks from Ko or Bwa masks.
      > "It is not unusual for a family or workshop to
      > produce masks for a
      > number of communities spread over a broad area
      > belonging to a single
      > ethnic group. This has occurred frequently in
      > Africa, and elsewhere
      > in the world... It is far more unusual, however, to
      > find a single
      > workshop producing sculpture for five different
      > ethnic groups, in
      > styles which, though identifiable, by the carvers
      > and owners, are so
      > homogenous that no one else can tell them apart...
      > Perhaps historians
      > of African art should now ask if objects in similar
      > or identical
      > styles were produced in 'Centers of Style,' where
      > artists of one
      > ethnic group produced art for all of their
      > neighbors. Perhaps it is
      > even more important to cease attempting to break
      > down large regional
      > styles into finer and finer tribal styles, and to
      > recognize that
      > artists in Africa are capable of producing work not
      > only in their own
      > style, but in the styles of their neighbors. It is
      > clear that, at
      > least in central Burkina Faso, we cannot tell which
      > group produced an
      > object by analyzing fine style characteristics." (p.
      > 7)
      > These passages illuminate the extreme complexities
      > in achieving a
      > masterful command of the criteria upon which to
      > posit accurate
      === message truncated ===

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