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

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  • ari birnbaum
    Hi Jean, I agree most of them are fakes...not all.. But isn t it a good exercise ? Did you count how many items that were posted on this forum are Authentic?
    Message 1 of 26 , Jan 13, 2008
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      Hi Jean,
      I agree most of them are fakes...not all..
      But isn't it a good exercise ?
      Did you count how many items that were posted on this forum are Authentic?
      Regards,
      Ari
       
      ----- 
      Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
      Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

      --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
      >
      > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's Library
      > http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
      >
      Hello,
      Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most of them are pure
      fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the suku of the first picture.
      Some look like coming directly from a horror show, or "star wars".
      Anthropology and education from these !!
      Yours
      JP Estrampes



      __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information __________

      This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus system.
      http://www.eset.com
    • Paul De Lucco
      Greetings: The Hemba So o mask with its costume, in the glass case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct. But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.
      Message 2 of 26 , Jan 13, 2008
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        Greetings:
         
        The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.  But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.  This collection is made up of very dubious pieces.  This goes beyond the realm of our frequent group discussions as to what constitutes "authentic."  The first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third photo are pure fantasy.  Presumably, a catalogue will be printed and, down the line, the collectors will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to sell the pieces through Sothebys.  (I cannot see that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at Sothebys, though.  Maybe it will just get donated for a tax write-off.) 
         
        I wonder who the curator is because I have a trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
         
        Regards,
         
        Paul     
         
         
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
        Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

        --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
        >
        > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's Library
        > http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
        >
        Hello,
        Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most of them are pure
        fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the suku of the first picture.
        Some look like coming directly from a horror show, or "star wars".
        Anthropology and education from these !!
        Yours
        JP Estrampes

      • Tim Michiels
        Just shows how much junk there is out there... how on earth were they able to organize such an exposition? Is there no one doing just a little bit of follow
        Message 3 of 26 , Jan 13, 2008
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          Just shows how much junk there is out there... how on earth were they able to organize such an exposition? Is there no one doing just a little bit of follow up, checking, controlling...?
          Shame !
           
          T.M.


          Paul De Lucco <pauldelucco@...> wrote:
          Greetings:
           
          The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.  But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.  This collection is made up of very dubious pieces.  This goes beyond the realm of our frequent group discussions as to what constitutes "authentic."  The first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third photo are pure fantasy.  Presumably, a catalogue will be printed and, down the line, the collectors will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to sell the pieces through Sothebys.  (I cannot see that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at Sothebys, though.  Maybe it will just get donated for a tax write-off.) 
           
          I wonder who the curator is because I have a trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
           
          Regards,
           
          Paul     
           
           
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
          Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com

          --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
          >
          > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's Library
          > http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
          >
          Hello,
          Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most of them are pure
          fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the suku of the first picture.
          Some look like coming directly from a horror show, or "star wars".
          Anthropology and education from these !!
          Yours
          JP Estrampes



          Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile. Try it now.

        • ari birnbaum
          All, I agree with you all... But i think that someone should write all this to UCM s Library... And tell them that not every african collector know what is
          Message 4 of 26 , Jan 14, 2008
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            All,
            I agree with you all...
            But i think that someone should write all this to UCM's Library...
            And tell them that not every african collector know what is
            Authentic ...
            In the special issue of African Art about Fake and Authenticity i  remember that someone wrote :
            The biggest problem in African Art is that after few month
            Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
            [something no one will dare in other fields] 
            Regards,
            Ari
            ----- Original Message -----
            Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
            Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

            Greetings:
             
            The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.  But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.  This collection is made up of very dubious pieces.  This goes beyond the realm of our frequent group discussions as to what constitutes "authentic."  The first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third photo are pure fantasy.  Presumably, a catalogue will be printed and, down the line, the collectors will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to sell the pieces through Sothebys.  (I cannot see that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at Sothebys, though.  Maybe it will just get donated for a tax write-off.) 
             
            I wonder who the curator is because I have a trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
             
            Regards,
             
            Paul     
             
             
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
            Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com

            --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
            >
            > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's Library
            > http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
            >
            Hello,
            Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most of them are pure
            fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the suku of the first picture.
            Some look like coming directly from a horror show, or "star wars".
            Anthropology and education from these !!
            Yours
            JP Estrampes



            __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information __________

            This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus system.
            http://www.eset.com
          • Mo Okdg
            Ladies and gentlemen, I know you ll kill me for saying this, but it is important for someone to say it, so Anon will say: let no one again call African art
            Message 5 of 26 , Jan 14, 2008
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              Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for saying
              this, but it is important for someone to say it, so
              Anon will say: let no one again call African art
              objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristically silent
              on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
              from their originality, African artists are bound but
              not limited by tradition. Any other way of thinking
              about this issue will only bring frustration, anger
              and disappointment to collectors of African art. But,
              can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
              Anon.

              Anon


              --- ari birnbaum <a312@...> wrote:

              > All,
              > I agree with you all...
              > But i think that someone should write all this to
              > UCM's Library...
              > And tell them that not every african collector know
              > what is
              > Authentic ...
              > In the special issue of African Art about Fake and
              > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
              > The biggest problem in African Art is that after few
              > month
              > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
              > [something no one will dare in other fields]
              > Regards,
              > Ari
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: Paul De Lucco
              > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
              > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
              > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
              > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
              >
              >
              >
              > Greetings:
              >
              > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass
              > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.
              > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
              > collection is made up of very dubious pieces. This
              > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
              > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic." The
              > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and
              > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left
              > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third
              > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
              > will be printed and, down the line, the collectors
              > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to
              > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
              > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
              > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get donated
              > for a tax write-off.)
              >
              > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
              > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
              >
              > Regards,
              >
              > Paul
              >
              >
              >
              > ----- Original Message -----
              > From: jean-pierre estrampes
              > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
              > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
              > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
              > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
              > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
              >
              >
              > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "ari
              > birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
              > >
              > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at UCM's
              > Library
              > >
              >
              http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
              > >
              > Hello,
              > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most
              > of them are pure
              > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
              > suku of the first picture.
              > Some look like coming directly from a horror
              > show, or "star wars".
              > Anthropology and education from these !!
              > Yours
              > JP Estrampes
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
              > __________
              >
              > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
              > system.
              > http://www.eset.com
              >
            • Lee Rubinstein
              Anon (!) et al: I haven t yet spoken aloud but be sure that my thoughts have been far from quiet in response to this last round of comments. The potential
              Message 6 of 26 , Jan 14, 2008
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                "Anon" (!) et al:

                I haven't yet "spoken" aloud but be sure that my thoughts have been far from quiet in response to this last round of comments.  The potential elements of rebuttal are so diverse that is not so easy to stop the wheel's spinning and pitch a coherent or comprehensive response.  Nonetheless, here are some of my musings thus far on the range of topics suggested by this discussion:

                Although the argument that Western museums' acquisition and retention of African cultural objects (a propos such conversations as those prompted by the idea and event of the creation of Musée du Quai-Branly) hinges in part on the idea that such an institution provides broader global access to the richness of African (and other) artistic, historical and cultural traditions, the fact remains that the greatest majority of items which the "greater good of the broader world" argument is constructed to protect in their current locales are rarely exhibited or made accessible to the general public; rather, the majorities of these collections remain hidden in the storage rooms of the institutions which retain them.  Thus, one must ask by what means museums such as the McClure at UCM would have access to the quality of objects and curatorial expertise that would allow for the level of exhibition quality suggested as appropriate and necessary for responsible, meaningful and satisfactory exhibitions.

                It would be glorious indeed if the celebrated objects reserved by major collections were circulated more widely through continuous, ever-changing touring exhibitions and thus made available to other venues on all continents so that the aesthetic, historical, cultural and trans-cultural values believed to be inherent in these canonical works (as well as the introduction of new masterpieces) could fulfill the alleged purpose of trans-cultural discourse in a more truly global manner.  In the absence of a broad, organized effort to circulate and amplify the objects, images and meanings that travel with -- and develop through -- such public exposure, museums and institutions that lack funding for acquisition often can access only those works bequeathed to them through the generosity of donors... who may or may not provide the additional funding required to engage curators to assist in more thorough assessments and illuminating exhibitions of these objects. 

                Although I am interested to dissuade instances of misrepresentation which might occur through gaps and inaccuracies in the understanding and presentation of objects and committed to enabling a more profound and participatory dialogue around them (and accepting that a multitude of curatorial and other truths can be appended to any object held by any institution), I wonder:  

                -Is it better to discourage such exhibitions and thus to disallow the opportunity from visitors to these museums to glimpse works which might goad them to explore the objects further or to discover something of themselves and/or others through the encounter with the presented African images and forms?

                -Might not broader distribution of -- and access to -- retained collections and related insights be seen as an essential (moral?  legal?) requirement for acquisition and retention of works by major institutions who justify control of these works on the basis of this educational function?

                In considering the issues pertaining to the roles and responsibilities -- as well as the potential opportunities -- of museums and other institutions who retain considerable collections of African cultural patrimony, I would like to share what I find to be among the most interesting bodies of thinking pertaining to the possible roles of museums and cultural institutions -- an article by Maurice Godelier which preceded the opening of Quai Branly -- "Offering the museum public the pleasures of art and knowledge" (see http://www.strabon.org/test/html/connaissance/articles/textes/godelier_en.htm)

                The article presents a considerable vision of some of the significant potential that can be realized by institutions, custodians and curators with access to both collections and resources.  In the more frequent instances, however, where both objects and funds are limited, I tend to prefer that the works made available for exhibition be made public -- as at UCM -- as a first step in providing access where otherwise none might be given -- with the understanding that much work remains to be done to uncover and disseminate information and diverse perspectives to complement and enhance the objects' presentation.  After all... 

                Who among us does not have a history that includes past experiences with partially and/or or erroneously understood objects wherefrom only time and further inquiry revealed mutable truths which diverged from the ideas with which we approached -- or acquired -- these objects? 

                Was each of us not able to develop a deeper appreciation and/or better understanding goaded by such initial access?   

                Is it kinder or more productive to censor such exhibitions based on issues of authenticity offering nothing in the place of "questionable" objects?  

                I certainly understand the concerns expressed but see the situation much like the classic conundrum of the "lesser evil" to be chosen -- one which could be remedied through a re-formulation of custody and access as well as sharing a commitment to the broader distribution and  illumination of objects and cultural information. It is a blessing and an honor to behold great cultural works;  more needs to be done to allow great works to tell their stories and to share those stories more widely.  Further limiting and more tightly controlling access seems not to move in the right direction.

                Lee

                On Jan 14, 2008, at 6:15 PM, Mo Okdg wrote:

                Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for saying
                this, but it is important for someone to say it, so
                Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristicall y silent
                on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                from their originality, African artists are bound but
                not limited by tradition. Any other way of thinking
                about this issue will only bring frustration, anger
                and disappointment to collectors of African art. But,
                can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                Anon.

                Anon

                --- ari birnbaum <a312@.... il> wrote:

                > All,
                > I agree with you all...
                > But i think that someone should write all this to
                > UCM's Library...
                > And tell them that not every african collector know
                > what is
                > Authentic ...
                > In the special issue of African Art about Fake and
                > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                > The biggest problem in African Art is that after few
                > month
                > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                > [something no one will dare in other fields] 
                > Regards,
                > Ari
                > ----- Original Message ----- 
                > From: Paul De Lucco 
                > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                > 
                > 
                > 
                > Greetings:
                > 
                > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass
                > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.
                > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                > collection is made up of very dubious pieces. This
                > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic." The
                > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and
                > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left
                > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third
                > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                > will be printed and, down the line, the collectors
                > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to
                > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get donated
                > for a tax write-off.) 
                > 
                > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                > 
                > Regards,
                > 
                > Paul 
                > 
                > 
                > 
                > ----- Original Message ----- 
                > From: jean-pierre estrampes 
                > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                > 
                > 
                > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari
                > birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
                > >
                > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's
                > Library
                > >
                >
                http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
                > >
                > Hello,
                > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most
                > of them are pure 
                > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                > suku of the first picture. 
                > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                > show, or "star wars". 
                > Anthropology and education from these !!
                > Yours
                > JP Estrampes
                > 
                > 
                > 
                > 
                > 
                > 
                > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
                > __________
                > 
                > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
                > system.
                > http://www.eset. com
                > 


              • Ann Porteus
                Thank you Lee and Anon, ann ... Thank you Lee and Anon, ann On 15/01/2008, at 12:20 PM, Lee Rubinstein wrote: Anon (!) et al: I haven t yet spoken aloud
                Message 7 of 26 , Jan 14, 2008
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                  Thank you Lee and Anon,
                  ann

                  On 15/01/2008, at 12:20 PM, Lee Rubinstein wrote:


                  "Anon" (!) et al:

                  I haven't yet "spoken" aloud but be sure that my thoughts have been far from quiet in response to this last round of comments.  The potential elements of rebuttal are so diverse that is not so easy to stop the wheel's spinning and pitch a coherent or comprehensive response.  Nonetheless, here are some of my musings thus far on the range of topics suggested by this discussion:

                  Although the argument that Western museums' acquisition and retention of African cultural objects (a propos such conversations as those prompted by the idea and event of the creation of Musée du Quai-Branly) hinges in part on the idea that such an institution provides broader global access to the richness of African (and other) artistic, historical and cultural traditions, the fact remains that the greatest majority of items which the "greater good of the broader world" argument is constructed to protect in their current locales are rarely exhibited or made accessible to the general public; rather, the majorities of these collections remain hidden in the storage rooms of the institutions which retain them.  Thus, one must ask by what means museums such as the McClure at UCM would have access to the quality of objects and curatorial expertise that would allow for the level of exhibition quality suggested as appropriate and necessary for responsible, meaningful and satisfactory exhibitions.

                  It would be glorious indeed if the celebrated objects reserved by major collections were circulated more widely through continuous, ever-changing touring exhibitions and thus made available to other venues on all continents so that the aesthetic, historical, cultural and trans-cultural values believed to be inherent in these canonical works (as well as the introduction of new masterpieces) could fulfill the alleged purpose of trans-cultural discourse in a more truly global manner.  In the absence of a broad, organized effort to circulate and amplify the objects, images and meanings that travel with -- and develop through -- such public exposure, museums and institutions that lack funding for acquisition often can access only those works bequeathed to them through the generosity of donors... who may or may not provide the additional funding required to engage curators to assist in more thorough assessments and illuminating exhibitions of these objects. 

                  Although I am interested to dissuade instances of misrepresentation which might occur through gaps and inaccuracies in the understanding and presentation of objects and committed to enabling a more profound and participatory dialogue around them (and accepting that a multitude of curatorial and other truths can be appended to any object held by any institution) , I wonder:  

                  -Is it better to discourage such exhibitions and thus to disallow the opportunity from visitors to these museums to glimpse works which might goad them to explore the objects further or to discover something of themselves and/or others through the encounter with the presented African images and forms?

                  -Might not broader distribution of -- and access to -- retained collections and related insights be seen as an essential (moral?  legal?) requirement for acquisition and retention of works by major institutions who justify control of these works on the basis of this educational function?

                  In considering the issues pertaining to the roles and responsibilities -- as well as the potential opportunities -- of museums and other institutions who retain considerable collections of African cultural patrimony, I would like to share what I find to be among the most interesting bodies of thinking pertaining to the possible roles of museums and cultural institutions -- an article by Maurice Godelier which preceded the opening of Quai Branly -- "Offering the museum public the pleasures of art and knowledge" (see http://www.strabon. org/test/ html/connaissanc e/articles/ textes/godelier_ en.htm)

                  The article presents a considerable vision of some of the significant potential that can be realized by institutions, custodians and curators with access to both collections and resources.  In the more frequent instances, however, where both objects and funds are limited, I tend to prefer that the works made available for exhibition be made public -- as at UCM -- as a first step in providing access where otherwise none might be given -- with the understanding that much work remains to be done to uncover and disseminate information and diverse perspectives to complement and enhance the objects' presentation.  After all... 

                  Who among us does not have a history that includes past experiences with partially and/or or erroneously understood objects wherefrom only time and further inquiry revealed mutable truths which diverged from the ideas with which we approached -- or acquired -- these objects? 

                  Was each of us not able to develop a deeper appreciation and/or better understanding goaded by such initial access?   

                  Is it kinder or more productive to censor such exhibitions based on issues of authenticity offering nothing in the place of "questionable" objects?  

                  I certainly understand the concerns expressed but see the situation much like the classic conundrum of the "lesser evil" to be chosen -- one which could be remedied through a re-formulation of custody and access as well as sharing a commitment to the broader distribution and  illumination of objects and cultural information. It is a blessing and an honor to behold great cultural works;  more needs to be done to allow great works to tell their stories and to share those stories more widely.  Further limiting and more tightly controlling access seems not to move in the right direction.

                  Lee

                  On Jan 14, 2008, at 6:15 PM, Mo Okdg wrote:

                  Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for saying
                  this, but it is important for someone to say it, so
                  Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                  objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristicall y silent
                  on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                  from their originality, African artists are bound but
                  not limited by tradition. Any other way of thinking
                  about this issue will only bring frustration, anger
                  and disappointment to collectors of African art. But,
                  can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                  Anon.

                  Anon

                  --- ari birnbaum <a312@.... il> wrote:

                  > All,
                  > I agree with you all...
                  > But i think that someone should write all this to
                  > UCM's Library...
                  > And tell them that not every african collector know
                  > what is
                  > Authentic ...
                  > In the special issue of African Art about Fake and
                  > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                  > The biggest problem in African Art is that after few
                  > month
                  > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                  > [something no one will dare in other fields] 
                  > Regards,
                  > Ari
                  > ----- Original Message ----- 
                  > From: Paul De Lucco 
                  > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                  > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                  > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                  > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                  > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                  > 
                  > 
                  > 
                  > Greetings:
                  > 
                  > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass
                  > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.
                  > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                  > collection is made up of very dubious pieces. This
                  > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                  > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic." The
                  > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and
                  > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left
                  > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third
                  > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                  > will be printed and, down the line, the collectors
                  > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to
                  > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                  > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                  > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get donated
                  > for a tax write-off.) 
                  > 
                  > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                  > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                  > 
                  > Regards,
                  > 
                  > Paul 
                  > 
                  > 
                  > 
                  > ----- Original Message ----- 
                  > From: jean-pierre estrampes 
                  > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                  > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                  > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                  > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                  > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                  > 
                  > 
                  > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari
                  > birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's
                  > Library
                  > >
                  >
                  http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
                  > >
                  > Hello,
                  > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most
                  > of them are pure 
                  > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                  > suku of the first picture. 
                  > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                  > show, or "star wars". 
                  > Anthropology and education from these !!
                  > Yours
                  > JP Estrampes
                  > 
                  > 
                  > 
                  > 
                  > 
                  > 
                  > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
                  > __________
                  > 
                  > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
                  > system.
                  > http://www.eset. com
                  > 




                • Tim Michiels
                  Question is : Does this belong in a museum? It is now presented as being authentic. I have no problem with an art exhibition but let s call an apple an apple
                  Message 8 of 26 , Jan 14, 2008
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                    Question is : Does this belong in a museum?
                    It is now presented as being authentic. I have no problem with an art exhibition but let's call an apple an apple and a pear a pear.
                    This kind of exhibition should be announced as being 'inspired by African art' but clearly state this is not 'African art' as we have known during the last 2 centuries.
                    It is already hard enough to get a clear view of the complex African art as it is.
                     
                    Imagine a museum with copies of Magritte, Picasso or Kandinsky. No worse, not even copies, paintings that resemble the real paintings. A mix of these 3 artists!
                    The general public would not know the difference and would think they see real pieces of surrealism and expressionism while you are actually looking at.....at nothing really.....a modern version of something that resembles the original.
                     
                    As said before, I have no problem with artists that want to be creative and make these things inspired by African art but do not mix authentic pieces with ‘modern art’ in one exposition and try to pretend it’s all real…
                     
                    That's my vision, but I guess I already made that clear in earlier posts... (o;
                     
                    Best regards
                     
                    Tim


                    Ann Porteus <ann@...> wrote:
                    Thank you Lee and Anon,
                    ann

                    On 15/01/2008, at 12:20 PM, Lee Rubinstein wrote:


                    "Anon" (!) et al:

                    I haven't yet "spoken" aloud but be sure that my thoughts have been far from quiet in response to this last round of comments.  The potential elements of rebuttal are so diverse that is not so easy to stop the wheel's spinning and pitch a coherent or comprehensive response.  Nonetheless, here are some of my musings thus far on the range of topics suggested by this discussion:

                    Although the argument that Western museums' acquisition and retention of African cultural objects (a propos such conversations as those prompted by the idea and event of the creation of Musée du Quai-Branly) hinges in part on the idea that such an institution provides broader global access to the richness of African (and other) artistic, historical and cultural traditions, the fact remains that the greatest majority of items which the "greater good of the broader world" argument is constructed to protect in their current locales are rarely exhibited or made accessible to the general public; rather, the majorities of these collections remain hidden in the storage rooms of the institutions which retain them.  Thus, one must ask by what means museums such as the McClure at UCM would have access to the quality of objects and curatorial expertise that would allow for the level of exhibition quality suggested as appropriate and necessary for responsible, meaningful and satisfactory exhibitions.

                    It would be glorious indeed if the celebrated objects reserved by major collections were circulated more widely through continuous, ever-changing touring exhibitions and thus made available to other venues on all continents so that the aesthetic, historical, cultural and trans-cultural values believed to be inherent in these canonical works (as well as the introduction of new masterpieces) could fulfill the alleged purpose of trans-cultural discourse in a more truly global manner.  In the absence of a broad, organized effort to circulate and amplify the objects, images and meanings that travel with -- and develop through -- such public exposure, museums and institutions that lack funding for acquisition often can access only those works bequeathed to them through the generosity of donors... who may or may not provide the additional funding required to engage curators to assist in more thorough assessments and illuminating exhibitions of these objects. 

                    Although I am interested to dissuade instances of misrepresentation which might occur through gaps and inaccuracies in the understanding and presentation of objects and committed to enabling a more profound and participatory dialogue around them (and accepting that a multitude of curatorial and other truths can be appended to any object held by any institution) , I wonder:  

                    -Is it better to discourage such exhibitions and thus to disallow the opportunity from visitors to these museums to glimpse works which might goad them to explore the objects further or to discover something of themselves and/or others through the encounter with the presented African images and forms?

                    -Might not broader distribution of -- and access to -- retained collections and related insights be seen as an essential (moral?  legal?) requirement for acquisition and retention of works by major institutions who justify control of these works on the basis of this educational function?

                    In considering the issues pertaining to the roles and responsibilities -- as well as the potential opportunities -- of museums and other institutions who retain considerable collections of African cultural patrimony, I would like to share what I find to be among the most interesting bodies of thinking pertaining to the possible roles of museums and cultural institutions -- an article by Maurice Godelier which preceded the opening of Quai Branly -- "Offering the museum public the pleasures of art and knowledge" (see http://www.strabon. org/test/ html/connaissanc e/articles/ textes/godelier_ en.htm)

                    The article presents a considerable vision of some of the significant potential that can be realized by institutions, custodians and curators with access to both collections and resources.  In the more frequent instances, however, where both objects and funds are limited, I tend to prefer that the works made available for exhibition be made public -- as at UCM -- as a first step in providing access where otherwise none might be given -- with the understanding that much work remains to be done to uncover and disseminate information and diverse perspectives to complement and enhance the objects' presentation.  After all... 

                    Who among us does not have a history that includes past experiences with partially and/or or erroneously understood objects wherefrom only time and further inquiry revealed mutable truths which diverged from the ideas with which we approached -- or acquired -- these objects? 

                    Was each of us not able to develop a deeper appreciation and/or better understanding goaded by such initial access?   

                    Is it kinder or more productive to censor such exhibitions based on issues of authenticity offering nothing in the place of "questionable" objects?  

                    I certainly understand the concerns expressed but see the situation much like the classic conundrum of the "lesser evil" to be chosen -- one which could be remedied through a re-formulation of custody and access as well as sharing a commitment to the broader distribution and  illumination of objects and cultural information. It is a blessing and an honor to behold great cultural works;  more needs to be done to allow great works to tell their stories and to share those stories more widely.  Further limiting and more tightly controlling access seems not to move in the right direction.

                    Lee

                    On Jan 14, 2008, at 6:15 PM, Mo Okdg wrote:

                    Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for saying
                    this, but it is important for someone to say it, so
                    Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                    objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristicall y silent
                    on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                    from their originality, African artists are bound but
                    not limited by tradition. Any other way of thinking
                    about this issue will only bring frustration, anger
                    and disappointment to collectors of African art. But,
                    can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                    Anon.

                    Anon

                    --- ari birnbaum <a312@.... il> wrote:

                    > All,
                    > I agree with you all...
                    > But i think that someone should write all this to
                    > UCM's Library...
                    > And tell them that not every african collector know
                    > what is
                    > Authentic ...
                    > In the special issue of African Art about Fake and
                    > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                    > The biggest problem in African Art is that after few
                    > month
                    > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                    > [something no one will dare in other fields] 
                    > Regards,
                    > Ari
                    > ----- Original Message ----- 
                    > From: Paul De Lucco 
                    > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                    > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                    > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                    > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                    > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > Greetings:
                    > 
                    > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass
                    > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.
                    > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                    > collection is made up of very dubious pieces. This
                    > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                    > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic." The
                    > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and
                    > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left
                    > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third
                    > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                    > will be printed and, down the line, the collectors
                    > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to
                    > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                    > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                    > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get donated
                    > for a tax write-off.) 
                    > 
                    > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                    > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                    > 
                    > Regards,
                    > 
                    > Paul 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > ----- Original Message ----- 
                    > From: jean-pierre estrampes 
                    > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                    > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                    > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                    > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                    > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                    > 
                    > 
                    > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari
                    > birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's
                    > Library
                    > >
                    >
                    http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
                    > >
                    > Hello,
                    > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most
                    > of them are pure 
                    > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                    > suku of the first picture. 
                    > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                    > show, or "star wars". 
                    > Anthropology and education from these !!
                    > Yours
                    > JP Estrampes
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > 
                    > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
                    > __________
                    > 
                    > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
                    > system.
                    > http://www.eset. com
                    > 






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                  • Steve Price
                    Hi Anon Surely, you don t deny that some African art is made with the intention of fooling the buyers into thinking that it s something that it isn t. Men in
                    Message 9 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                      Hi Anon

                      Surely, you don't deny that some African art is made with the
                      intention of fooling the buyers into thinking that it's something
                      that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily carve pieces to look
                      like the work of African tribespeople from other places, fix them up
                      with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give them some
                      rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being misrepresented as
                      the things on which they are based. African or not, those are
                      fakes.

                      As for the issue of whether it's better for a museum to present the
                      public with fakes than with nothing African at all: it would be
                      better, but only if the fakes are presented as reproductions. Fraud
                      (there are probably more polite words, but it's early in the morning
                      and I can't think of one) is not part of the mission of any
                      respectable museum. No curator would knowingly hang a copy of a work
                      on a wall and label it the original. Even if Picasso took
                      inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did - he predates the
                      mass production of fake African art), they'd still be fakes. His
                      work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might very well have served
                      the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant to whether they were
                      fake or not.

                      Steve Price



                      --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg <okdg@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for saying
                      > this, but it is important for someone to say it, so
                      > Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                      > objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristically silent
                      > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                      > from their originality, African artists are bound but
                      > not limited by tradition. Any other way of thinking
                      > about this issue will only bring frustration, anger
                      > and disappointment to collectors of African art. But,
                      > can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                      > Anon.
                      >
                      > Anon
                      >
                      >
                      > --- ari birnbaum <a312@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > All,
                      > > I agree with you all...
                      > > But i think that someone should write all this to
                      > > UCM's Library...
                      > > And tell them that not every african collector know
                      > > what is
                      > > Authentic ...
                      > > In the special issue of African Art about Fake and
                      > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                      > > The biggest problem in African Art is that after few
                      > > month
                      > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                      > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                      > > Regards,
                      > > Ari
                      > > ----- Original Message -----
                      > > From: Paul De Lucco
                      > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                      > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                      > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                      > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
                      > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > Greetings:
                      > >
                      > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass
                      > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.
                      > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                      > > collection is made up of very dubious pieces. This
                      > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                      > > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic." The
                      > > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and
                      > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left
                      > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third
                      > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                      > > will be printed and, down the line, the collectors
                      > > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to
                      > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                      > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                      > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get donated
                      > > for a tax write-off.)
                      > >
                      > > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                      > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                      > >
                      > > Regards,
                      > >
                      > > Paul
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > ----- Original Message -----
                      > > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                      > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                      > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                      > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                      > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
                      > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "ari
                      > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                      > > >
                      > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at UCM's
                      > > Library
                      > > >
                      > >
                      > http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
                      > > >
                      > > Hello,
                      > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most
                      > > of them are pure
                      > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                      > > suku of the first picture.
                      > > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                      > > show, or "star wars".
                      > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                      > > Yours
                      > > JP Estrampes
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > >
                      > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
                      > > __________
                      > >
                      > > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
                      > > system.
                      > > http://www.eset.com
                      > >
                      >
                    • walberto
                      No one is denying that African artists and artisans continue to produce beautiful and interesting works of value nor that they should reproduce traditional
                      Message 10 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                        No one is denying that African artists and artisans
                        continue to produce beautiful and interesting works of
                        value nor that they should reproduce traditional works
                        with exactitude or even great latitude. The problem
                        comes when these objects are aged to fool the buyer or
                        viewer or presented in such away as to suggest they
                        are anything other than reproductions or art objects
                        created solely for the market. It is painfully
                        obvious that those responsible for this show did not
                        do their homework. Had they opened any decent book on
                        African art they would have seen a dramatic difference
                        between the illustrated works and the claptrap they
                        chose for their exhibition. Blaming established
                        institutions for hoarding authentic works is a long
                        detour to nowhere. There are plenty of honorable
                        pieces in collections throughout the country, in the
                        hands of private collectors who would be glad to share
                        their treasures with their fellow citizens. Even if a
                        few of these treasures proved ultimately to be sly
                        fakes as well it would be a better state of affairs
                        than what we have here an exhibition of fantasy,
                        forgery and folly.


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                      • Mo Okdg
                        Dear Steve: That the African artist is defying stereotypes seems frustrating to speculators and collectors. These artists, like artists elsewhere, are
                        Message 11 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                          Dear Steve:

                          That the African artist is defying stereotypes seems
                          frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                          artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding to
                          market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                          limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries. This
                          is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                          busily carve pieces to look like the work of African
                          tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                          artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give them
                          some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                          When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what does
                          this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                          impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                          recognize or enshrine.

                          What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                          Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the barrier.
                          There are American Impressionists although
                          Impressionism is European.

                          I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                          Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                          commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art? A
                          fake?

                          Anon


                          --- Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:

                          > Hi Anon
                          >
                          > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is made
                          > with the
                          > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking that
                          > it's something
                          > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                          > carve pieces to look
                          > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                          > places, fix them up
                          > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                          > give them some
                          > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                          > misrepresented as
                          > the things on which they are based. African or not,
                          > those are
                          > fakes.
                          >
                          > As for the issue of whether it's better for a museum
                          > to present the
                          > public with fakes than with nothing African at all:
                          > it would be
                          > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                          > reproductions. Fraud
                          > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                          > early in the morning
                          > and I can't think of one) is not part of the mission
                          > of any
                          > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly hang
                          > a copy of a work
                          > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                          > Picasso took
                          > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did -
                          > he predates the
                          > mass production of fake African art), they'd still
                          > be fakes. His
                          > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might very
                          > well have served
                          > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant to
                          > whether they were
                          > fake or not.
                          >
                          > Steve Price
                          >
                          >
                          >
                          > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                          > <okdg@...> wrote:
                          > >
                          > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for
                          > saying
                          > > this, but it is important for someone to say it,
                          > so
                          > > Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                          > > objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristically
                          > silent
                          > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                          > > from their originality, African artists are bound
                          > but
                          > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                          > thinking
                          > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                          > anger
                          > > and disappointment to collectors of African art.
                          > But,
                          > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                          > > Anon.
                          > >
                          > > Anon
                          > >
                          > >
                          > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@...> wrote:
                          > >
                          > > > All,
                          > > > I agree with you all...
                          > > > But i think that someone should write all this
                          > to
                          > > > UCM's Library...
                          > > > And tell them that not every african collector
                          > know
                          > > > what is
                          > > > Authentic ...
                          > > > In the special issue of African Art about Fake
                          > and
                          > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                          > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that after
                          > few
                          > > > month
                          > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                          > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                          > > > Regards,
                          > > > Ari
                          > > > ----- Original Message -----
                          > > > From: Paul De Lucco
                          > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                          > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                          > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                          > African
                          > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
                          > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > Greetings:
                          > > >
                          > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the
                          > glass
                          > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                          > correct.
                          > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                          > > > collection is made up of very dubious pieces.
                          > This
                          > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                          > > > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic."
                          > The
                          > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?)
                          > and
                          > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                          > left
                          > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the
                          > third
                          > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                          > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                          > collectors
                          > > > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity
                          > to
                          > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                          > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                          > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                          > donated
                          > > > for a tax write-off.)
                          > > >
                          > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                          > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                          > > >
                          > > > Regards,
                          > > >
                          > > > Paul
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > ----- Original Message -----
                          > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                          > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                          > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                          > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                          > African
                          > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
                          > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "ari
                          > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                          > > > >
                          > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at UCM's
                          > > > Library
                          > > > >
                          > > >
                          > >
                          >
                          http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
                          > > > >
                          > > > Hello,
                          > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes,
                          > most
                          > > > of them are pure
                          > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                          > > > suku of the first picture.
                          > > > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                          > > > show, or "star wars".
                          > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                          > > > Yours
                          > > > JP Estrampes
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > >
                          > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
                          > > > __________
                          > > >
                          > > > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
                          > > > system.
                          > > > http://www.eset.com
                          > > >
                          > >
                          >
                          >
                          >
                        • Steve Price
                          Hi Anon I m having a terrible time following your reasoning. A forger isn t an artist, he s a forger. A Cameroonian making fake Fang byeri figures this week
                          Message 12 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                            Hi Anon

                            I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning. A forger isn't
                            an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake Fang byeri
                            figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver.

                            The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't bother me at
                            all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate artistic convention
                            just won't settle down into the part of my brain that holds what I
                            think of as sensible things.

                            Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba commission, and those
                            masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what? I'm wearing
                            shoes made in China. Does that make the factory workers who sewed my
                            shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet they don't think so
                            either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry Drewal's carvings
                            made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba masks.

                            Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving chi waras that
                            Bamana people dance. We're talking about Cameroonians carving chi
                            waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they can fool into
                            thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by Bamana many years
                            ago. That's not an artist expressing his creativity, it's a craftsman
                            making forgeries.

                            Steve Price

                            --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg <okdg@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > Dear Steve:
                            >
                            > That the African artist is defying stereotypes seems
                            > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                            > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding to
                            > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                            > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries. This
                            > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                            > busily carve pieces to look like the work of African
                            > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                            > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give them
                            > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                            > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what does
                            > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                            > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                            > recognize or enshrine.
                            >
                            > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                            > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the barrier.
                            > There are American Impressionists although
                            > Impressionism is European.
                            >
                            > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                            > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                            > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art? A
                            > fake?
                            >
                            > Anon
                            >
                            >
                            > --- Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:
                            >
                            > > Hi Anon
                            > >
                            > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is made
                            > > with the
                            > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking that
                            > > it's something
                            > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                            > > carve pieces to look
                            > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                            > > places, fix them up
                            > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                            > > give them some
                            > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                            > > misrepresented as
                            > > the things on which they are based. African or not,
                            > > those are
                            > > fakes.
                            > >
                            > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a museum
                            > > to present the
                            > > public with fakes than with nothing African at all:
                            > > it would be
                            > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                            > > reproductions. Fraud
                            > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                            > > early in the morning
                            > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the mission
                            > > of any
                            > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly hang
                            > > a copy of a work
                            > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                            > > Picasso took
                            > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did -
                            > > he predates the
                            > > mass production of fake African art), they'd still
                            > > be fakes. His
                            > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might very
                            > > well have served
                            > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant to
                            > > whether they were
                            > > fake or not.
                            > >
                            > > Steve Price
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                            > > <okdg@> wrote:
                            > > >
                            > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for
                            > > saying
                            > > > this, but it is important for someone to say it,
                            > > so
                            > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                            > > > objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristically
                            > > silent
                            > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                            > > > from their originality, African artists are bound
                            > > but
                            > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                            > > thinking
                            > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                            > > anger
                            > > > and disappointment to collectors of African art.
                            > > But,
                            > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                            > > > Anon.
                            > > >
                            > > > Anon
                            > > >
                            > > >
                            > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                            > > >
                            > > > > All,
                            > > > > I agree with you all...
                            > > > > But i think that someone should write all this
                            > > to
                            > > > > UCM's Library...
                            > > > > And tell them that not every african collector
                            > > know
                            > > > > what is
                            > > > > Authentic ...
                            > > > > In the special issue of African Art about Fake
                            > > and
                            > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                            > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that after
                            > > few
                            > > > > month
                            > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                            > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                            > > > > Regards,
                            > > > > Ari
                            > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                            > > > > From: Paul De Lucco
                            > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                            > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                            > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                            > > African
                            > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
                            > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Greetings:
                            > > > >
                            > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the
                            > > glass
                            > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                            > > correct.
                            > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                            > > > > collection is made up of very dubious pieces.
                            > > This
                            > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                            > > > > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic."
                            > > The
                            > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?)
                            > > and
                            > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                            > > left
                            > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the
                            > > third
                            > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                            > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                            > > collectors
                            > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity
                            > > to
                            > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                            > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                            > > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                            > > donated
                            > > > > for a tax write-off.)
                            > > > >
                            > > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                            > > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Regards,
                            > > > >
                            > > > > Paul
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                            > > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                            > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                            > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                            > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                            > > African
                            > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's
                            > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, "ari
                            > > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at UCM's
                            > > > > Library
                            > > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > >
                            > >
                            > http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
                            > > > > >
                            > > > > Hello,
                            > > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes,
                            > > most
                            > > > > of them are pure
                            > > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                            > > > > suku of the first picture.
                            > > > > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                            > > > > show, or "star wars".
                            > > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                            > > > > Yours
                            > > > > JP Estrampes
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > >
                            > > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
                            > > > > __________
                            > > > >
                            > > > > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
                            > > > > system.
                            > > > > http://www.eset.com
                            > > > >
                            > > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            > >
                            >
                          • Mo Okdg
                            Dear Steve: Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                            Message 13 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                              Dear Steve:

                              Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an
                              AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary
                              perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                              understand. Yet from a convoluted Yoruba perspective,
                              Drewal is accepted as an important Yoruba man in the
                              Ijebu, Egbado and Egba communities that consider him
                              important to their rituals and other activities. It is
                              different from a Chinese shoe by a Chinese guy who has
                              never been to the US and has no connection with
                              Americans.

                              We may call the African artists name like forgers.
                              They will be amused. They used to be called primitive,
                              tribal, naive etc.

                              If an artist is working today, he is a contemporary
                              artist free to do whatever s'he likes, even though
                              we'd like to control the African artist and
                              anticipate/stereotype his work.

                              Anon


                              --- Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:

                              > Hi Anon
                              >
                              > I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning.
                              > A forger isn't
                              > an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake
                              > Fang byeri
                              > figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver.
                              >
                              >
                              > The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't
                              > bother me at
                              > all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate
                              > artistic convention
                              > just won't settle down into the part of my brain
                              > that holds what I
                              > think of as sensible things.
                              >
                              > Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba
                              > commission, and those
                              > masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what?
                              > I'm wearing
                              > shoes made in China. Does that make the factory
                              > workers who sewed my
                              > shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet
                              > they don't think so
                              > either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry
                              > Drewal's carvings
                              > made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba
                              > masks.
                              >
                              > Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving
                              > chi waras that
                              > Bamana people dance. We're talking about
                              > Cameroonians carving chi
                              > waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they
                              > can fool into
                              > thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by
                              > Bamana many years
                              > ago. That's not an artist expressing his
                              > creativity, it's a craftsman
                              > making forgeries.
                              >
                              > Steve Price
                              >
                              > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                              > <okdg@...> wrote:
                              > >
                              > > Dear Steve:
                              > >
                              > > That the African artist is defying stereotypes
                              > seems
                              > > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                              > > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding
                              > to
                              > > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                              > > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries.
                              > This
                              > > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                              > > busily carve pieces to look like the work of
                              > African
                              > > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                              > > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give
                              > them
                              > > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                              > > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what
                              > does
                              > > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                              > > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                              > > recognize or enshrine.
                              > >
                              > > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                              > > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the
                              > barrier.
                              > > There are American Impressionists although
                              > > Impressionism is European.
                              > >
                              > > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                              > > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                              > > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art?
                              > A
                              > > fake?
                              > >
                              > > Anon
                              > >
                              > >
                              > > --- Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:
                              > >
                              > > > Hi Anon
                              > > >
                              > > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is
                              > made
                              > > > with the
                              > > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking
                              > that
                              > > > it's something
                              > > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                              > > > carve pieces to look
                              > > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                              > > > places, fix them up
                              > > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                              > > > give them some
                              > > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                              > > > misrepresented as
                              > > > the things on which they are based. African or
                              > not,
                              > > > those are
                              > > > fakes.
                              > > >
                              > > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a
                              > museum
                              > > > to present the
                              > > > public with fakes than with nothing African at
                              > all:
                              > > > it would be
                              > > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                              > > > reproductions. Fraud
                              > > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                              > > > early in the morning
                              > > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the
                              > mission
                              > > > of any
                              > > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly
                              > hang
                              > > > a copy of a work
                              > > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                              > > > Picasso took
                              > > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did
                              > -
                              > > > he predates the
                              > > > mass production of fake African art), they'd
                              > still
                              > > > be fakes. His
                              > > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might
                              > very
                              > > > well have served
                              > > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant
                              > to
                              > > > whether they were
                              > > > fake or not.
                              > > >
                              > > > Steve Price
                              > > >
                              > > >
                              > > >
                              > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                              > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me
                              > for
                              > > > saying
                              > > > > this, but it is important for someone to say
                              > it,
                              > > > so
                              > > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African
                              > art
                              > > > > objects fake. (Lee went so
                              > uncharacteristically
                              > > > silent
                              > > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who
                              > benefited
                              > > > > from their originality, African artists are
                              > bound
                              > > > but
                              > > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                              > > > thinking
                              > > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                              > > > anger
                              > > > > and disappointment to collectors of African
                              > art.
                              > > > But,
                              > > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover
                              > of
                              > > > > Anon.
                              > > > >
                              > > > > Anon
                              > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                              > > > >
                              > > > > > All,
                              > > > > > I agree with you all...
                              > > > > > But i think that someone should write all
                              > this
                              > > > to
                              > > > > > UCM's Library...
                              > > > > > And tell them that not every african
                              > collector
                              > > > know
                              > > > > > what is
                              > > > > > Authentic ...
                              > > > > > In the special issue of African Art about
                              > Fake
                              > > > and
                              > > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote
                              > :
                              > > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that
                              > after
                              > > > few
                              > > > > > month
                              > > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                              > > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                              >
                              > > > > > Regards,
                              > > > > > Ari
                              > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                              > > > > > From: Paul De Lucco
                              > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                              > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                              > > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                              > > > African
                              > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                              > UCM's
                              > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > Greetings:
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in
                              > the
                              > > > glass
                              > > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                              > > > correct.
                              > > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.
                              > This
                              > > > > > collection is made up of very dubious
                              > pieces.
                              > > > This
                              > > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                              > > > > > discussions as to what constitutes
                              > "authentic."
                              > > > The
                              > > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant
                              > beetle?)
                              > > > and
                              > > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                              > > > left
                              > > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in
                              > the
                              > > > third
                              > > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a
                              > catalogue
                              > > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                              > > > collectors
                              > > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of
                              > authenticity
                              > > > to
                              > > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot
                              > see
                              > > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                              > > > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                              > > > donated
                              > > > > > for a tax write-off.)
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have
                              > a
                              > > > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > Regards,
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > Paul
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                              > > > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                              > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                              > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                              > > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                              > > > African
                              > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                              > UCM's
                              > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com,
                              > "ari
                              > > > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at
                              > UCM's
                              > > > > > Library
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > >
                              > >
                              >
                              http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
                              > > > > > >
                              > > > > > Hello,
                              > > > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are
                              > fakes,
                              > > > most
                              > > > > > of them are pure
                              > > > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?)
                              > the
                              > > > > > suku of the first picture.
                              > > > > > Some look like coming directly from a
                              > horror
                              > > > > > show, or "star wars".
                              > > > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                              > > > > > Yours
                              > > > > > JP Estrampes
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119)
                              > Information
                              > > > > > __________
                              > > > > >
                              > > > > > This message was checked by NOD32
                              > antivirus
                              > > > > > system.
                              > > > > > http://www.eset.com
                              > > > > >
                              > > > >
                              > > >
                              > > >
                              > > >
                              > >
                              >
                              >
                              >
                            • Steve Price
                              Hi Anon I was not aware that Henry Drewal, although an American born caucasian, is actually a Yoruba chief. Knowing that, if he carves masks for Yoruba
                              Message 14 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                                Hi Anon

                                I was not aware that Henry Drewal, although an American born
                                caucasian, is actually a Yoruba chief. Knowing that, if he carves
                                masks for Yoruba festivities, they are Yoruba carvings.

                                As for Cameroonians making byeri figures with applied patination and
                                intentional erosion and selling them to westerners as reliquary
                                guardians made by Fang carvers 100 years ago, I think we are at an
                                impasse. You see them as artists expanding their creativity, I see
                                them as forgers. Perhaps we've reached the point at which we should
                                just agree to disagree. That would work for me.

                                Steve Price


                                --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg <okdg@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > Dear Steve:
                                >
                                > Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an
                                > AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary
                                > perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                                > understand. Yet from a convoluted Yoruba perspective,
                                > Drewal is accepted as an important Yoruba man in the
                                > Ijebu, Egbado and Egba communities that consider him
                                > important to their rituals and other activities. It is
                                > different from a Chinese shoe by a Chinese guy who has
                                > never been to the US and has no connection with
                                > Americans.
                                >
                                > We may call the African artists name like forgers.
                                > They will be amused. They used to be called primitive,
                                > tribal, naive etc.
                                >
                                > If an artist is working today, he is a contemporary
                                > artist free to do whatever s'he likes, even though
                                > we'd like to control the African artist and
                                > anticipate/stereotype his work.
                                >
                                > Anon
                                >
                                >
                                > --- Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > > Hi Anon
                                > >
                                > > I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning.
                                > > A forger isn't
                                > > an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake
                                > > Fang byeri
                                > > figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver.
                                > >
                                > >
                                > > The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't
                                > > bother me at
                                > > all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate
                                > > artistic convention
                                > > just won't settle down into the part of my brain
                                > > that holds what I
                                > > think of as sensible things.
                                > >
                                > > Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba
                                > > commission, and those
                                > > masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what?
                                > > I'm wearing
                                > > shoes made in China. Does that make the factory
                                > > workers who sewed my
                                > > shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet
                                > > they don't think so
                                > > either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry
                                > > Drewal's carvings
                                > > made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba
                                > > masks.
                                > >
                                > > Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving
                                > > chi waras that
                                > > Bamana people dance. We're talking about
                                > > Cameroonians carving chi
                                > > waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they
                                > > can fool into
                                > > thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by
                                > > Bamana many years
                                > > ago. That's not an artist expressing his
                                > > creativity, it's a craftsman
                                > > making forgeries.
                                > >
                                > > Steve Price
                                > >
                                > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                                > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                > > >
                                > > > Dear Steve:
                                > > >
                                > > > That the African artist is defying stereotypes
                                > > seems
                                > > > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                                > > > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding
                                > > to
                                > > > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                                > > > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries.
                                > > This
                                > > > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                                > > > busily carve pieces to look like the work of
                                > > African
                                > > > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                                > > > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give
                                > > them
                                > > > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                                > > > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what
                                > > does
                                > > > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                                > > > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                                > > > recognize or enshrine.
                                > > >
                                > > > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                                > > > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the
                                > > barrier.
                                > > > There are American Impressionists although
                                > > > Impressionism is European.
                                > > >
                                > > > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                                > > > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                                > > > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art?
                                > > A
                                > > > fake?
                                > > >
                                > > > Anon
                                > > >
                                > > >
                                > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                > > >
                                > > > > Hi Anon
                                > > > >
                                > > > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is
                                > > made
                                > > > > with the
                                > > > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking
                                > > that
                                > > > > it's something
                                > > > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                                > > > > carve pieces to look
                                > > > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                                > > > > places, fix them up
                                > > > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                                > > > > give them some
                                > > > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                                > > > > misrepresented as
                                > > > > the things on which they are based. African or
                                > > not,
                                > > > > those are
                                > > > > fakes.
                                > > > >
                                > > > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a
                                > > museum
                                > > > > to present the
                                > > > > public with fakes than with nothing African at
                                > > all:
                                > > > > it would be
                                > > > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                                > > > > reproductions. Fraud
                                > > > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                                > > > > early in the morning
                                > > > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the
                                > > mission
                                > > > > of any
                                > > > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly
                                > > hang
                                > > > > a copy of a work
                                > > > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                                > > > > Picasso took
                                > > > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did
                                > > -
                                > > > > he predates the
                                > > > > mass production of fake African art), they'd
                                > > still
                                > > > > be fakes. His
                                > > > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might
                                > > very
                                > > > > well have served
                                > > > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant
                                > > to
                                > > > > whether they were
                                > > > > fake or not.
                                > > > >
                                > > > > Steve Price
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                                > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me
                                > > for
                                > > > > saying
                                > > > > > this, but it is important for someone to say
                                > > it,
                                > > > > so
                                > > > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African
                                > > art
                                > > > > > objects fake. (Lee went so
                                > > uncharacteristically
                                > > > > silent
                                > > > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who
                                > > benefited
                                > > > > > from their originality, African artists are
                                > > bound
                                > > > > but
                                > > > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                                > > > > thinking
                                > > > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                                > > > > anger
                                > > > > > and disappointment to collectors of African
                                > > art.
                                > > > > But,
                                > > > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover
                                > > of
                                > > > > > Anon.
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > Anon
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                                > > > > >
                                > > > > > > All,
                                > > > > > > I agree with you all...
                                > > > > > > But i think that someone should write all
                                > > this
                                > > > > to
                                > > > > > > UCM's Library...
                                > > > > > > And tell them that not every african
                                > > collector
                                > > > > know
                                > > > > > > what is
                                > > > > > > Authentic ...
                                > > > > > > In the special issue of African Art about
                                > > Fake
                                > > > > and
                                > > > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote
                                > > :
                                > > > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that
                                > > after
                                > > > > few
                                > > > > > > month
                                > > > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                > > > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                > >
                                > > > > > > Regards,
                                > > > > > > Ari
                                > > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                                > > > > > > From: Paul De Lucco
                                > > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                > > > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                > > > > African
                                > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                                > > UCM's
                                > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > Greetings:
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in
                                > > the
                                > > > > glass
                                > > > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                                > > > > correct.
                                > > > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.
                                > > This
                                > > > > > > collection is made up of very dubious
                                > > pieces.
                                > > > > This
                                > > > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                > > > > > > discussions as to what constitutes
                                > > "authentic."
                                > > > > The
                                > > > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant
                                > > beetle?)
                                > > > > and
                                > > > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                                > > > > left
                                > > > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in
                                > > the
                                > > > > third
                                > > > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a
                                > > catalogue
                                > > > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                                > > > > collectors
                                > > > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of
                                > > authenticity
                                > > > > to
                                > > > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot
                                > > see
                                > > > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                > > > > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                                > > > > donated
                                > > > > > > for a tax write-off.)
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have
                                > > a
                                > > > > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > Regards,
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > Paul
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                                > > > > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                                > > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                                > > > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                > > > > African
                                > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                                > > UCM's
                                > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com,
                                > > "ari
                                > > > > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                                > > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at
                                > > UCM's
                                > > > > > > Library
                                > > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > >
                                > >
                                > http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
                                > > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > Hello,
                                > > > > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are
                                > > fakes,
                                > > > > most
                                > > > > > > of them are pure
                                > > > > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?)
                                > > the
                                > > > > > > suku of the first picture.
                                > > > > > > Some look like coming directly from a
                                > > horror
                                > > > > > > show, or "star wars".
                                > > > > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                                > > > > > > Yours
                                > > > > > > JP Estrampes
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119)
                                > > Information
                                > > > > > > __________
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > > > This message was checked by NOD32
                                > > antivirus
                                > > > > > > system.
                                > > > > > > http://www.eset.com
                                > > > > > >
                                > > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > > >
                                > > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                > >
                                >
                              • dileepmehta39
                                Perhaps I AM MISSING the BOAT here, but aren t we confusing two issues here? 1. Objects that are closely following the perceived canonical attributes of
                                Message 15 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                                  Perhaps I AM MISSING the BOAT here, but aren't we confusing two
                                  issues here?

                                  1. Objects that are closely following the perceived canonical
                                  attributes of authentic objects; e.g., an Ibeji smaller than 14", or
                                  the Luba artist using generally light wood.

                                  2. Objects that have distinct features not encountered in generally
                                  observed pieces; e.g., a white Bundu mask.

                                  These distinctions are useful in that the first type of objects are
                                  purported to be from the peoples,time period, or both, when in fact
                                  they are not. Such objects are fakes, unless a clear designation
                                  identifies them as 'not belonging to the peoples or the time period'.

                                  The second type of object creates a more difficult problem. In the
                                  interest of brevity, let me just suggest that we still do not have a
                                  comprehensive list of characteristics of a given mask or sculpture in
                                  African art. A carver may introduce new interpretation: witness the
                                  European influence on the Guro or Baule [among others] reflected in
                                  their TRADITIONAL objects. If we had only seen a Baule blolo bla male
                                  with traditional hair-do, and now come across one with a sola hat and
                                  britches, should we designate this latter figure as a fake? Of
                                  course, we know better in this specific situation, but Sieber
                                  observed in Praise Poems [p. xiii] that Katherine White stashed away
                                  a mask deep in the closet because 'experts' told her it was an
                                  atypical or a fake piece, only to learn years later that it was a
                                  genuine example of an unpublished style.
                                  It may be my eyesight or the quality of photographs, but I couldn't
                                  discern right away whether the objects in the UCM exhibition had
                                  telltale signs of fakery when they resemble the usually encountered
                                  masks and figures [I sure envy others with a sharper eyesight!]; and
                                  for objects with unusual features, the late sieber's statement keeps
                                  me from making a snap judgment, especially since often I do not even
                                  know the country from which the object originally came[or supposed to
                                  have come].
                                • Lee Rubinstein
                                  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
                                  Message 16 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                                    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: http://www.universityofafricanart.org/Image/Text/afilaka.pdf 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 identification and assessment of object authenticity even through a well-informed visual assessment of style.  Further, the assumptions made regarding the authorship of works as a criterion of establishing authenticity also appears rather complicated.  Too, as I have cited this example in previous discussions, the fact that ritual masks and tourist masks are created by the same hand, trebles the ambiguity and difficulty in attributing authenticity and cultural origin to many an object.  So, beyond even the alleged subterfuge of misrepresentation, we have the challenge of the more subtle subterfuge of misidentification derived from an over-stated mastery in distinguishing the features which constitute assessments of authenticity.  This range of ambiguities does not even take into account the judgments which are made regarding the objects produced by the same hands to fulfill both the requirements of ritual use and commercial demand!  Further, I would also like to point out that the misrepresentation often does not originate with the carver but rather may be created through various levels of conspiratorial collusion at market levels to add value to works traded (sold, auctioned, donated).  As Dr. Roy indicates, efforts are often made to seek "expert" opinion to support accurate identification and authentication;  yet, I am inclined to wonder about the relative frequency -- and accessibility -- of such fastidious referencing.  I would imagine that assessments are far more often defaulted to less authoritative sources than the indigenous sources -- even the creators themselves, when possible, who might best provide the highest level of scrutiny and commentary with regard to ritual authenticity.

                                    In addition to my resistance to attributing nefarious intent to the artisans, one must again consider the context in which artistic production is often undertaken.  As it is indeed challenging to distinguish among objects, so too is it a broad stroke to attribute the negative, deceptive intent which arises through market-motivated greed to all participants in the process of creating reproductions.  Controlling and exacting value from African-originated commodities (minerals, oil, art...) is among the most significant challenges in African economic development.  Relocating value-addition to the product before it leaves the continent and thus contributing more to African economies remains, I think, the great challenge in all fields of global trade of products from Africa.  Within the realm of art both African and non-African, there is considerable room for improvement in the way in which financial gains are apportioned between artists and purveyors as well.

                                    Returning to the realm of curatorial responsibility to identify and present accurately works on exhibition, anyone who has mounted an exhibition or sought to document conclusively a previously undocumented object recognizes the challenges inherent in these undertakings.  Suggesting (perhaps hyperbolically) that "Had they opened any decent book on African art they would have seen a dramatic difference between the illustrated works and the claptrap they chose for their exhibition" presumes wrongly, I think, that what might become clear to a more experienced eye is so obvious at first glance or with a minimal effort.  While I appreciate the emotion and idea behind the suggestion, the fact that all our combined hours and years of exploration still barely scrape the surfaces of even one mere corner of this vast field might provide a fair reminder that as evolves the art, so too evolves the eye and the understanding of it.  Again, many museums have neither the human nor the financial resources to provide the curatorial expertise suggested here.  

                                    Still, the offense taken and the suggestion of the wide availability of "honorable pieces" and "collectors who would be glad to share their treasures" reminds me of the persistence of political and economic machinations that frame the process through which works are indeed allowed -- or disallowed from -- public exhibition.  Personally, though to a limited extent, I have engaged in efforts to engage various institutions in exhibitions of works which have included well-documented, authenticated and even canonical African works to be met with resistance stemming from what I perceive to be politics of social and economic exclusion and a limited body of individuals seeking to control the flow of objects and ideas.  Efforts continue to be made to maintain a culture of exclusion and exclusivity that insists upon limiting public presentation to objects belonging to certain institutions and/or to a limited sphere of collectors who are also institutional patrons and benefactors.  In many ways the museum community often appears to be as eagerly committed to the same control of value as is evidenced in the commercial realm.  Ideally, this is just a rough patch in the West's transitioning African material culture from the ethnographic to the aesthetic.

                                    Lee

                                    On Jan 15, 2008, at 2:29 PM, Steve Price wrote:

                                    Hi Anon

                                    I was not aware that Henry Drewal, although an American born 
                                    caucasian, is actually a Yoruba chief. Knowing that, if he carves 
                                    masks for Yoruba festivities, they are Yoruba carvings. 

                                    As for Cameroonians making byeri figures with applied patination and 
                                    intentional erosion and selling them to westerners as reliquary 
                                    guardians made by Fang carvers 100 years ago, I think we are at an 
                                    impasse. You see them as artists expanding their creativity, I see 
                                    them as forgers. Perhaps we've reached the point at which we should 
                                    just agree to disagree. That would work for me.

                                    Steve Price

                                    --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg <okdg@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > Dear Steve:
                                    > 
                                    > Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an
                                    > AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary
                                    > perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                                    > understand. Yet from a convoluted Yoruba perspective,
                                    > Drewal is accepted as an important Yoruba man in the
                                    > Ijebu, Egbado and Egba communities that consider him 
                                    > important to their rituals and other activities. It is
                                    > different from a Chinese shoe by a Chinese guy who has
                                    > never been to the US and has no connection with
                                    > Americans.
                                    > 
                                    > We may call the African artists name like forgers.
                                    > They will be amused. They used to be called primitive,
                                    > tribal, naive etc. 
                                    > 
                                    > If an artist is working today, he is a contemporary
                                    > artist free to do whatever s'he likes, even though
                                    > we'd like to control the African artist and
                                    > anticipate/stereoty pe his work.
                                    > 
                                    > Anon
                                    > 
                                    > 
                                    > --- Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:
                                    > 
                                    > > Hi Anon
                                    > > 
                                    > > I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning.
                                    > > A forger isn't 
                                    > > an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake
                                    > > Fang byeri 
                                    > > figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver. 
                                    > > 
                                    > > 
                                    > > The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't
                                    > > bother me at 
                                    > > all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate
                                    > > artistic convention 
                                    > > just won't settle down into the part of my brain
                                    > > that holds what I 
                                    > > think of as sensible things. 
                                    > > 
                                    > > Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba
                                    > > commission, and those 
                                    > > masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what? 
                                    > > I'm wearing 
                                    > > shoes made in China. Does that make the factory
                                    > > workers who sewed my 
                                    > > shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet
                                    > > they don't think so 
                                    > > either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry
                                    > > Drewal's carvings 
                                    > > made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba
                                    > > masks. 
                                    > > 
                                    > > Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving
                                    > > chi waras that 
                                    > > Bamana people dance. We're talking about
                                    > > Cameroonians carving chi 
                                    > > waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they
                                    > > can fool into 
                                    > > thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by
                                    > > Bamana many years 
                                    > > ago. That's not an artist expressing his
                                    > > creativity, it's a craftsman
                                    > > making forgeries.
                                    > > 
                                    > > Steve Price
                                    > > 
                                    > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg
                                    > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                    > > >
                                    > > > Dear Steve:
                                    > > > 
                                    > > > That the African artist is defying stereotypes
                                    > > seems
                                    > > > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                                    > > > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding
                                    > > to
                                    > > > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                                    > > > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries. 
                                    > > This
                                    > > > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                                    > > > busily carve pieces to look like the work of
                                    > > African
                                    > > > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                                    > > > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give
                                    > > them
                                    > > > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                                    > > > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what
                                    > > does
                                    > > > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                                    > > > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                                    > > > recognize or enshrine.
                                    > > > 
                                    > > > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                                    > > > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the
                                    > > barrier.
                                    > > > There are American Impressionists although
                                    > > > Impressionism is European.
                                    > > > 
                                    > > > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                                    > > > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                                    > > > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art?
                                    > > A
                                    > > > fake?
                                    > > > 
                                    > > > Anon
                                    > > > 
                                    > > > 
                                    > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                    > > > 
                                    > > > > Hi Anon
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is
                                    > > made
                                    > > > > with the 
                                    > > > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking
                                    > > that
                                    > > > > it's something 
                                    > > > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                                    > > > > carve pieces to look 
                                    > > > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                                    > > > > places, fix them up 
                                    > > > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                                    > > > > give them some 
                                    > > > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                                    > > > > misrepresented as 
                                    > > > > the things on which they are based. African or
                                    > > not,
                                    > > > > those are 
                                    > > > > fakes. 
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a
                                    > > museum
                                    > > > > to present the 
                                    > > > > public with fakes than with nothing African at
                                    > > all:
                                    > > > > it would be 
                                    > > > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                                    > > > > reproductions. Fraud 
                                    > > > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                                    > > > > early in the morning 
                                    > > > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the
                                    > > mission
                                    > > > > of any 
                                    > > > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly
                                    > > hang
                                    > > > > a copy of a work 
                                    > > > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                                    > > > > Picasso took 
                                    > > > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did
                                    > > -
                                    > > > > he predates the 
                                    > > > > mass production of fake African art), they'd
                                    > > still
                                    > > > > be fakes. His 
                                    > > > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might
                                    > > very
                                    > > > > well have served 
                                    > > > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant
                                    > > to
                                    > > > > whether they were 
                                    > > > > fake or not.
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > > Steve Price
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg
                                    > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me
                                    > > for
                                    > > > > saying
                                    > > > > > this, but it is important for someone to say
                                    > > it,
                                    > > > > so
                                    > > > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African
                                    > > art
                                    > > > > > objects fake. (Lee went so
                                    > > uncharacteristicall y
                                    > > > > silent
                                    > > > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who
                                    > > benefited
                                    > > > > > from their originality, African artists are
                                    > > bound
                                    > > > > but
                                    > > > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                                    > > > > thinking
                                    > > > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                                    > > > > anger
                                    > > > > > and disappointment to collectors of African
                                    > > art.
                                    > > > > But,
                                    > > > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover
                                    > > of
                                    > > > > > Anon.
                                    > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > Anon
                                    > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                                    > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > All,
                                    > > > > > > I agree with you all...
                                    > > > > > > But i think that someone should write all
                                    > > this
                                    > > > > to
                                    > > > > > > UCM's Library...
                                    > > > > > > And tell them that not every african
                                    > > collector
                                    > > > > know
                                    > > > > > > what is
                                    > > > > > > Authentic ...
                                    > > > > > > In the special issue of African Art about
                                    > > Fake
                                    > > > > and
                                    > > > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote
                                    > > :
                                    > > > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that
                                    > > after
                                    > > > > few
                                    > > > > > > month
                                    > > > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                    > > > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                    > > 
                                    > > > > > > Regards,
                                    > > > > > > Ari
                                    > > > > > > ----- Original Message ----- 
                                    > > > > > > From: Paul De Lucco 
                                    > > > > > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                                    > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                    > > > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                    > > > > African
                                    > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at
                                    > > UCM's
                                    > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > Greetings:
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in
                                    > > the
                                    > > > > glass
                                    > > > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                                    > > > > correct.
                                    > > > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. 
                                    > > This
                                    > > > > > > collection is made up of very dubious
                                    > > pieces. 
                                    > > > > This
                                    > > > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                    > > > > > > discussions as to what constitutes
                                    > > "authentic." 
                                    > > > > The
                                    > > > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant
                                    > > beetle?)
                                    > > > > and
                                    > > > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                                    > > > > left
                                    > > > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in
                                    > > the
                                    > > > > third
                                    > > > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a
                                    > > catalogue
                                    > > > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                                    > > > > collectors
                                    > > > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of
                                    > > authenticity
                                    > > > > to
                                    > > > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot
                                    > > see
                                    > > > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                    > > > > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                                    > > > > donated
                                    > > > > > > for a tax write-off.) 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have
                                    > > a
                                    > > > > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > Regards,
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > Paul 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > ----- Original Message ----- 
                                    > > > > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes 
                                    > > > > > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                                    > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                                    > > > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                    > > > > African
                                    > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at
                                    > > UCM's
                                    > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com,
                                    > > "ari
                                    > > > > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at
                                    > > UCM's
                                    > > > > > > Library
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > >
                                    > http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
                                    > > > > > > >
                                    > > > > > > Hello,
                                    > > > > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are
                                    > > fakes,
                                    > > > > most
                                    > > > > > > of them are pure 
                                    > > > > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?)
                                    > > the
                                    > > > > > > suku of the first picture. 
                                    > > > > > > Some look like coming directly from a
                                    > > horror
                                    > > > > > > show, or "star wars". 
                                    > > > > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                                    > > > > > > Yours
                                    > > > > > > JP Estrampes
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119)
                                    > > Information
                                    > > > > > > __________
                                    > > > > > > 
                                    > > > > > > This message was checked by NOD32
                                    > > antivirus
                                    > > > > > > system.
                                    > > > > > > http://www.eset. com
                                    > > > > > >
                                    > > > > >
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > > 
                                    > > > >
                                    > > >
                                    > > 
                                    > > 
                                    > >
                                    >


                                  • Steve Price
                                    Hi Lee You wrote, ... in seeking to distinguish between African art and works inspired by African art , where is the line drawn, and by whom? By what
                                    Message 17 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                                      Hi Lee

                                      You wrote, "... 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?"

                                      A Cameroonian can make a byeri figure, patinate it, stick its base in
                                      the ground for a couple of weeks to cause some rotting and erosion.
                                      He will be paid by someone who will represent the figure as an old
                                      Fang reliquary guardian and sell it in the west. The item is
                                      authentically African, and if it warrants being called art, it's
                                      authentic African art. Who cares? The only thing that's important
                                      is that it isn't a Fang reliquary guardian. That makes it a forgery,
                                      whether it was made in Africa or Asia.

                                      A forgery of a Rolex isn't an authentic Rolex. Who cares whether it
                                      was made in Switzerland or in China? The only thing that's important
                                      is that it isn't a Rolex. That makes it a forgery.

                                      Steve Price


                                      --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, 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:
                                      http://www.universityofafricanart.org/Image/Text/afilaka.pdf
                                      > 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
                                      > identification and assessment of object authenticity even through
                                      a
                                      > well-informed visual assessment of style. Further, the
                                      assumptions
                                      > made regarding the authorship of works as a criterion of
                                      establishing
                                      > authenticity also appears rather complicated. Too, as I have
                                      cited
                                      > this example in previous discussions, the fact that ritual masks
                                      and
                                      > tourist masks are created by the same hand, trebles the ambiguity
                                      and
                                      > difficulty in attributing authenticity and cultural origin to many
                                      an
                                      > object. So, beyond even the alleged subterfuge of
                                      misrepresentation,
                                      > we have the challenge of the more subtle subterfuge of
                                      > misidentification derived from an over-stated mastery in
                                      > distinguishing the features which constitute assessments of
                                      > authenticity. This range of ambiguities does not even take into
                                      > account the judgments which are made regarding the objects
                                      produced
                                      > by the same hands to fulfill both the requirements of ritual use
                                      and
                                      > commercial demand! Further, I would also like to point out that
                                      the
                                      > misrepresentation often does not originate with the carver but
                                      rather
                                      > may be created through various levels of conspiratorial collusion
                                      at
                                      > market levels to add value to works traded (sold, auctioned,
                                      > donated). As Dr. Roy indicates, efforts are often made to seek
                                      > "expert" opinion to support accurate identification and
                                      > authentication; yet, I am inclined to wonder about the relative
                                      > frequency -- and accessibility -- of such fastidious referencing.
                                      I
                                      > would imagine that assessments are far more often defaulted to
                                      less
                                      > authoritative sources than the indigenous sources -- even the
                                      > creators themselves, when possible, who might best provide the
                                      > highest level of scrutiny and commentary with regard to ritual
                                      > authenticity.
                                      >
                                      > In addition to my resistance to attributing nefarious intent to
                                      the
                                      > artisans, one must again consider the context in which artistic
                                      > production is often undertaken. As it is indeed challenging to
                                      > distinguish among objects, so too is it a broad stroke to
                                      attribute
                                      > the negative, deceptive intent which arises through market-
                                      motivated
                                      > greed to all participants in the process of creating
                                      reproductions.
                                      > Controlling and exacting value from African-originated commodities
                                      > (minerals, oil, art...) is among the most significant challenges
                                      in
                                      > African economic development. Relocating value-addition to the
                                      > product before it leaves the continent and thus contributing more
                                      to
                                      > African economies remains, I think, the great challenge in all
                                      fields
                                      > of global trade of products from Africa. Within the realm of art
                                      > both African and non-African, there is considerable room for
                                      > improvement in the way in which financial gains are apportioned
                                      > between artists and purveyors as well.
                                      >
                                      > Returning to the realm of curatorial responsibility to identify
                                      and
                                      > present accurately works on exhibition, anyone who has mounted an
                                      > exhibition or sought to document conclusively a previously
                                      > undocumented object recognizes the challenges inherent in these
                                      > undertakings. Suggesting (perhaps hyperbolically) that "Had they
                                      > opened any decent book on African art they would have seen a
                                      dramatic
                                      > difference between the illustrated works and the claptrap they
                                      chose
                                      > for their exhibition" presumes wrongly, I think, that what might
                                      > become clear to a more experienced eye is so obvious at first
                                      glance
                                      > or with a minimal effort. While I appreciate the emotion and idea
                                      > behind the suggestion, the fact that all our combined hours and
                                      years
                                      > of exploration still barely scrape the surfaces of even one mere
                                      > corner of this vast field might provide a fair reminder that as
                                      > evolves the art, so too evolves the eye and the understanding of
                                      it.
                                      > Again, many museums have neither the human nor the financial
                                      > resources to provide the curatorial expertise suggested here.
                                      >
                                      > Still, the offense taken and the suggestion of the wide
                                      availability
                                      > of "honorable pieces" and "collectors who would be glad to share
                                      > their treasures" reminds me of the persistence of political and
                                      > economic machinations that frame the process through which works
                                      are
                                      > indeed allowed -- or disallowed from -- public exhibition.
                                      > Personally, though to a limited extent, I have engaged in efforts
                                      to
                                      > engage various institutions in exhibitions of works which have
                                      > included well-documented, authenticated and even canonical African
                                      > works to be met with resistance stemming from what I perceive to
                                      be
                                      > politics of social and economic exclusion and a limited body of
                                      > individuals seeking to control the flow of objects and ideas.
                                      > Efforts continue to be made to maintain a culture of exclusion and
                                      > exclusivity that insists upon limiting public presentation to
                                      objects
                                      > belonging to certain institutions and/or to a limited sphere of
                                      > collectors who are also institutional patrons and benefactors. In
                                      > many ways the museum community often appears to be as eagerly
                                      > committed to the same control of value as is evidenced in the
                                      > commercial realm. Ideally, this is just a rough patch in the
                                      West's
                                      > transitioning African material culture from the ethnographic to
                                      the
                                      > aesthetic.
                                      >
                                      > Lee
                                      >
                                      > On Jan 15, 2008, at 2:29 PM, Steve Price wrote:
                                      >
                                      > > Hi Anon
                                      > >
                                      > > I was not aware that Henry Drewal, although an American born
                                      > > caucasian, is actually a Yoruba chief. Knowing that, if he carves
                                      > > masks for Yoruba festivities, they are Yoruba carvings.
                                      > >
                                      > > As for Cameroonians making byeri figures with applied patination
                                      and
                                      > > intentional erosion and selling them to westerners as reliquary
                                      > > guardians made by Fang carvers 100 years ago, I think we are at an
                                      > > impasse. You see them as artists expanding their creativity, I see
                                      > > them as forgers. Perhaps we've reached the point at which we
                                      should
                                      > > just agree to disagree. That would work for me.
                                      > >
                                      > > Steve Price
                                      > >
                                      > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg <okdg@> wrote:
                                      > > >
                                      > > > Dear Steve:
                                      > > >
                                      > > > Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an
                                      > > > AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary
                                      > > > perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                                      > > > understand. Yet from a convoluted Yoruba perspective,
                                      > > > Drewal is accepted as an important Yoruba man in the
                                      > > > Ijebu, Egbado and Egba communities that consider him
                                      > > > important to their rituals and other activities. It is
                                      > > > different from a Chinese shoe by a Chinese guy who has
                                      > > > never been to the US and has no connection with
                                      > > > Americans.
                                      > > >
                                      > > > We may call the African artists name like forgers.
                                      > > > They will be amused. They used to be called primitive,
                                      > > > tribal, naive etc.
                                      > > >
                                      > > > If an artist is working today, he is a contemporary
                                      > > > artist free to do whatever s'he likes, even though
                                      > > > we'd like to control the African artist and
                                      > > > anticipate/stereotype his work.
                                      > > >
                                      > > > Anon
                                      > > >
                                      > > >
                                      > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                      > > >
                                      > > > > Hi Anon
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > > I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning.
                                      > > > > A forger isn't
                                      > > > > an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake
                                      > > > > Fang byeri
                                      > > > > figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver.
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > > The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't
                                      > > > > bother me at
                                      > > > > all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate
                                      > > > > artistic convention
                                      > > > > just won't settle down into the part of my brain
                                      > > > > that holds what I
                                      > > > > think of as sensible things.
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > > Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba
                                      > > > > commission, and those
                                      > > > > masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what?
                                      > > > > I'm wearing
                                      > > > > shoes made in China. Does that make the factory
                                      > > > > workers who sewed my
                                      > > > > shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet
                                      > > > > they don't think so
                                      > > > > either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry
                                      > > > > Drewal's carvings
                                      > > > > made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba
                                      > > > > masks.
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > > Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving
                                      > > > > chi waras that
                                      > > > > Bamana people dance. We're talking about
                                      > > > > Cameroonians carving chi
                                      > > > > waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they
                                      > > > > can fool into
                                      > > > > thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by
                                      > > > > Bamana many years
                                      > > > > ago. That's not an artist expressing his
                                      > > > > creativity, it's a craftsman
                                      > > > > making forgeries.
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > > Steve Price
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                                      > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > > Dear Steve:
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > > That the African artist is defying stereotypes
                                      > > > > seems
                                      > > > > > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                                      > > > > > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding
                                      > > > > to
                                      > > > > > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                                      > > > > > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries.
                                      > > > > This
                                      > > > > > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                                      > > > > > busily carve pieces to look like the work of
                                      > > > > African
                                      > > > > > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                                      > > > > > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give
                                      > > > > them
                                      > > > > > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                                      > > > > > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what
                                      > > > > does
                                      > > > > > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                                      > > > > > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                                      > > > > > recognize or enshrine.
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                                      > > > > > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the
                                      > > > > barrier.
                                      > > > > > There are American Impressionists although
                                      > > > > > Impressionism is European.
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                                      > > > > > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                                      > > > > > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art?
                                      > > > > A
                                      > > > > > fake?
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > > Anon
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > Hi Anon
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is
                                      > > > > made
                                      > > > > > > with the
                                      > > > > > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking
                                      > > > > that
                                      > > > > > > it's something
                                      > > > > > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                                      > > > > > > carve pieces to look
                                      > > > > > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                                      > > > > > > places, fix them up
                                      > > > > > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                                      > > > > > > give them some
                                      > > > > > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                                      > > > > > > misrepresented as
                                      > > > > > > the things on which they are based. African or
                                      > > > > not,
                                      > > > > > > those are
                                      > > > > > > fakes.
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a
                                      > > > > museum
                                      > > > > > > to present the
                                      > > > > > > public with fakes than with nothing African at
                                      > > > > all:
                                      > > > > > > it would be
                                      > > > > > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                                      > > > > > > reproductions. Fraud
                                      > > > > > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                                      > > > > > > early in the morning
                                      > > > > > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the
                                      > > > > mission
                                      > > > > > > of any
                                      > > > > > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly
                                      > > > > hang
                                      > > > > > > a copy of a work
                                      > > > > > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                                      > > > > > > Picasso took
                                      > > > > > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did
                                      > > > > -
                                      > > > > > > he predates the
                                      > > > > > > mass production of fake African art), they'd
                                      > > > > still
                                      > > > > > > be fakes. His
                                      > > > > > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might
                                      > > > > very
                                      > > > > > > well have served
                                      > > > > > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant
                                      > > > > to
                                      > > > > > > whether they were
                                      > > > > > > fake or not.
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > Steve Price
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                                      > > > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                      > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me
                                      > > > > for
                                      > > > > > > saying
                                      > > > > > > > this, but it is important for someone to say
                                      > > > > it,
                                      > > > > > > so
                                      > > > > > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African
                                      > > > > art
                                      > > > > > > > objects fake. (Lee went so
                                      > > > > uncharacteristically
                                      > > > > > > silent
                                      > > > > > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who
                                      > > > > benefited
                                      > > > > > > > from their originality, African artists are
                                      > > > > bound
                                      > > > > > > but
                                      > > > > > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                                      > > > > > > thinking
                                      > > > > > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                                      > > > > > > anger
                                      > > > > > > > and disappointment to collectors of African
                                      > > > > art.
                                      > > > > > > But,
                                      > > > > > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover
                                      > > > > of
                                      > > > > > > > Anon.
                                      > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > Anon
                                      > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                                      > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > All,
                                      > > > > > > > > I agree with you all...
                                      > > > > > > > > But i think that someone should write all
                                      > > > > this
                                      > > > > > > to
                                      > > > > > > > > UCM's Library...
                                      > > > > > > > > And tell them that not every african
                                      > > > > collector
                                      > > > > > > know
                                      > > > > > > > > what is
                                      > > > > > > > > Authentic ...
                                      > > > > > > > > In the special issue of African Art about
                                      > > > > Fake
                                      > > > > > > and
                                      > > > > > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote
                                      > > > > :
                                      > > > > > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that
                                      > > > > after
                                      > > > > > > few
                                      > > > > > > > > month
                                      > > > > > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                      > > > > > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > Regards,
                                      > > > > > > > > Ari
                                      > > > > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                                      > > > > > > > > From: Paul De Lucco
                                      > > > > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                      > > > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                      > > > > > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                      > > > > > > African
                                      > > > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                                      > > > > UCM's
                                      > > > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > Greetings:
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in
                                      > > > > the
                                      > > > > > > glass
                                      > > > > > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                                      > > > > > > correct.
                                      > > > > > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.
                                      > > > > This
                                      > > > > > > > > collection is made up of very dubious
                                      > > > > pieces.
                                      > > > > > > This
                                      > > > > > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                      > > > > > > > > discussions as to what constitutes
                                      > > > > "authentic."
                                      > > > > > > The
                                      > > > > > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant
                                      > > > > beetle?)
                                      > > > > > > and
                                      > > > > > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                                      > > > > > > left
                                      > > > > > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in
                                      > > > > the
                                      > > > > > > third
                                      > > > > > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a
                                      > > > > catalogue
                                      > > > > > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                                      > > > > > > collectors
                                      > > > > > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of
                                      > > > > authenticity
                                      > > > > > > to
                                      > > > > > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot
                                      > > > > see
                                      > > > > > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                      > > > > > > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                                      > > > > > > donated
                                      > > > > > > > > for a tax write-off.)
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have
                                      > > > > a
                                      > > > > > > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > Regards,
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > Paul
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                                      > > > > > > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                                      > > > > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                      > > > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                                      > > > > > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                      > > > > > > African
                                      > > > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                                      > > > > UCM's
                                      > > > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com,
                                      > > > > "ari
                                      > > > > > > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                                      > > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at
                                      > > > > UCM's
                                      > > > > > > > > Library
                                      > > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
                                      > > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > Hello,
                                      > > > > > > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are
                                      > > > > fakes,
                                      > > > > > > most
                                      > > > > > > > > of them are pure
                                      > > > > > > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?)
                                      > > > > the
                                      > > > > > > > > suku of the first picture.
                                      > > > > > > > > Some look like coming directly from a
                                      > > > > horror
                                      > > > > > > > > show, or "star wars".
                                      > > > > > > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                                      > > > > > > > > Yours
                                      > > > > > > > > JP Estrampes
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119)
                                      > > > > Information
                                      > > > > > > > > __________
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > > > This message was checked by NOD32
                                      > > > > antivirus
                                      > > > > > > > > system.
                                      > > > > > > > > http://www.eset.com
                                      > > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > > >
                                      > > > > >
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > >
                                      > > > >
                                      > > >
                                      > >
                                      > >
                                      > >
                                      >
                                    • satan luci
                                      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 ...
                                      Message 18 of 26 , 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:
                                        >
                                        http://www.universityofafricanart.org/Image/Text/afilaka.pdf
                                        >
                                        > 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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                                      • ari birnbaum
                                        Hi All, I was very sad to read that there are still Member that believe that what we see at UCM S exhibition could be authentic. Could Bundy museum selling
                                        Message 19 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                                          Hi All,
                                          I was very sad to read that there are still
                                          Member that believe that what we see at
                                          UCM"S exhibition could be authentic.
                                          Could Bundy museum selling authentic
                                          Benin art for $600 or $700...?
                                          I was very sad to read that some members calling Fakers ,contemporary
                                          Artist...
                                           I was sad to read that there
                                          Are still members that believe that this
                                          Fakes could be a rare example of African
                                          Authentic but unknown artifacts ...
                                          I was very sad to read that there are still
                                          Members that clapp their hands to the
                                          Suggestion  "lets forget about using the Word Fake in African art"..
                                           ...And that theFakers are artist "that Responding to market desire"
                                          Perhaps market desire is: buying fakes
                                          Well that not my desire-sorry.
                                          Non of this institution and museums did
                                          Any consulting or research -i'm confident
                                          That bundy museum know what they exhibit  and sell ...and...
                                          Not having money is no excuse for Teaching mistakes.
                                          No-its not just a matter of opinion
                                          Or a matter of test!
                                          Unfortunatly  brain is the most common
                                          Thing in the world everyone believe he has one.
                                          Regards,
                                          Ari
                                           
                                           
                                          -----
                                          Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 9:40 PM
                                          Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

                                          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: http://www.universi tyofafricanart. org/Image/ Text/afilaka. pdf and http://www.universi tyofafricanart. org/Image/ Text/beautifiers 3.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 identification and assessment of object authenticity even through a well-informed visual assessment of style.  Further, the assumptions made regarding the authorship of works as a criterion of establishing authenticity also appears rather complicated.  Too, as I have cited this example in previous discussions, the fact that ritual masks and tourist masks are created by the same hand, trebles the ambiguity and difficulty in attributing authenticity and cultural origin to many an object.  So, beyond even the alleged subterfuge of misrepresentation, we have the challenge of the more subtle subterfuge of misidentification derived from an over-stated mastery in distinguishing the features which constitute assessments of authenticity.  This range of ambiguities does not even take into account the judgments which are made regarding the objects produced by the same hands to fulfill both the requirements of ritual use and commercial demand!  Further, I would also like to point out that the misrepresentation often does not originate with the carver but rather may be created through various levels of conspiratorial collusion at market levels to add value to works traded (sold, auctioned, donated).  As Dr. Roy indicates, efforts are often made to seek "expert" opinion to support accurate identification and authentication;  yet, I am inclined to wonder about the relative frequency -- and accessibility -- of such fastidious referencing.  I would imagine that assessments are far more often defaulted to less authoritative sources than the indigenous sources -- even the creators themselves, when possible, who might best provide the highest level of scrutiny and commentary with regard to ritual authenticity.

                                          In addition to my resistance to attributing nefarious intent to the artisans, one must again consider the context in which artistic production is often undertaken.  As it is indeed challenging to distinguish among objects, so too is it a broad stroke to attribute the negative, deceptive intent which arises through market-motivated greed to all participants in the process of creating reproductions.  Controlling and exacting value from African-originated commodities (minerals, oil, art...) is among the most significant challenges in African economic development.  Relocating value-addition to the product before it leaves the continent and thus contributing more to African economies remains, I think, the great challenge in all fields of global trade of products from Africa.  Within the realm of art both African and non-African, there is considerable room for improvement in the way in which financial gains are apportioned between artists and purveyors as well.

                                          Returning to the realm of curatorial responsibility to identify and present accurately works on exhibition, anyone who has mounted an exhibition or sought to document conclusively a previously undocumented object recognizes the challenges inherent in these undertakings.  Suggesting (perhaps hyperbolically) that "Had they opened any decent book on African art they would have seen a dramatic difference between the illustrated works and the claptrap they chose for their exhibition" presumes wrongly, I think, that what might become clear to a more experienced eye is so obvious at first glance or with a minimal effort.  While I appreciate the emotion and idea behind the suggestion, the fact that all our combined hours and years of exploration still barely scrape the surfaces of even one mere corner of this vast field might provide a fair reminder that as evolves the art, so too evolves the eye and the understanding of it.  Again, many museums have neither the human nor the financial resources to provide the curatorial expertise suggested here.  

                                          Still, the offense taken and the suggestion of the wide availability of "honorable pieces" and "collectors who would be glad to share their treasures" reminds me of the persistence of political and economic machinations that frame the process through which works are indeed allowed -- or disallowed from -- public exhibition.  Personally, though to a limited extent, I have engaged in efforts to engage various institutions in exhibitions of works which have included well-documented, authenticated and even canonical African works to be met with resistance stemming from what I perceive to be politics of social and economic exclusion and a limited body of individuals seeking to control the flow of objects and ideas.  Efforts continue to be made to maintain a culture of exclusion and exclusivity that insists upon limiting public presentation to objects belonging to certain institutions and/or to a limited sphere of collectors who are also institutional patrons and benefactors.  In many ways the museum community often appears to be as eagerly committed to the same control of value as is evidenced in the commercial realm.  Ideally, this is just a rough patch in the West's transitioning African material culture from the ethnographic to the aesthetic.

                                          Lee

                                          On Jan 15, 2008, at 2:29 PM, Steve Price wrote:

                                          Hi Anon

                                          I was not aware that Henry Drewal, although an American born 
                                          caucasian, is actually a Yoruba chief. Knowing that, if he carves 
                                          masks for Yoruba festivities, they are Yoruba carvings. 

                                          As for Cameroonians making byeri figures with applied patination and 
                                          intentional erosion and selling them to westerners as reliquary 
                                          guardians made by Fang carvers 100 years ago, I think we are at an 
                                          impasse. You see them as artists expanding their creativity, I see 
                                          them as forgers. Perhaps we've reached the point at which we should 
                                          just agree to disagree. That would work for me.

                                          Steve Price

                                          --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg <okdg@...> wrote:
                                          >
                                          > Dear Steve:
                                          > 
                                          > Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an
                                          > AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary
                                          > perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                                          > understand. Yet from a convoluted Yoruba perspective,
                                          > Drewal is accepted as an important Yoruba man in the
                                          > Ijebu, Egbado and Egba communities that consider him 
                                          > important to their rituals and other activities. It is
                                          > different from a Chinese shoe by a Chinese guy who has
                                          > never been to the US and has no connection with
                                          > Americans.
                                          > 
                                          > We may call the African artists name like forgers.
                                          > They will be amused. They used to be called primitive,
                                          > tribal, naive etc. 
                                          > 
                                          > If an artist is working today, he is a contemporary
                                          > artist free to do whatever s'he likes, even though
                                          > we'd like to control the African artist and
                                          > anticipate/stereoty pe his work.
                                          > 
                                          > Anon
                                          > 
                                          > 
                                          > --- Steve Price <sprice@...> wrote:
                                          > 
                                          > > Hi Anon
                                          > > 
                                          > > I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning.
                                          > > A forger isn't 
                                          > > an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake
                                          > > Fang byeri 
                                          > > figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver. 
                                          > > 
                                          > > 
                                          > > The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't
                                          > > bother me at 
                                          > > all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate
                                          > > artistic convention 
                                          > > just won't settle down into the part of my brain
                                          > > that holds what I 
                                          > > think of as sensible things. 
                                          > > 
                                          > > Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba
                                          > > commission, and those 
                                          > > masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what? 
                                          > > I'm wearing 
                                          > > shoes made in China. Does that make the factory
                                          > > workers who sewed my 
                                          > > shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet
                                          > > they don't think so 
                                          > > either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry
                                          > > Drewal's carvings 
                                          > > made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba
                                          > > masks. 
                                          > > 
                                          > > Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving
                                          > > chi waras that 
                                          > > Bamana people dance. We're talking about
                                          > > Cameroonians carving chi 
                                          > > waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they
                                          > > can fool into 
                                          > > thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by
                                          > > Bamana many years 
                                          > > ago. That's not an artist expressing his
                                          > > creativity, it's a craftsman
                                          > > making forgeries.
                                          > > 
                                          > > Steve Price
                                          > > 
                                          > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg
                                          > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                          > > >
                                          > > > Dear Steve:
                                          > > > 
                                          > > > That the African artist is defying stereotypes
                                          > > seems
                                          > > > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                                          > > > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding
                                          > > to
                                          > > > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                                          > > > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries. 
                                          > > This
                                          > > > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                                          > > > busily carve pieces to look like the work of
                                          > > African
                                          > > > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                                          > > > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give
                                          > > them
                                          > > > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                                          > > > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what
                                          > > does
                                          > > > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                                          > > > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                                          > > > recognize or enshrine.
                                          > > > 
                                          > > > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                                          > > > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the
                                          > > barrier.
                                          > > > There are American Impressionists although
                                          > > > Impressionism is European.
                                          > > > 
                                          > > > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                                          > > > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                                          > > > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art?
                                          > > A
                                          > > > fake?
                                          > > > 
                                          > > > Anon
                                          > > > 
                                          > > > 
                                          > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                          > > > 
                                          > > > > Hi Anon
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is
                                          > > made
                                          > > > > with the 
                                          > > > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking
                                          > > that
                                          > > > > it's something 
                                          > > > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                                          > > > > carve pieces to look 
                                          > > > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                                          > > > > places, fix them up 
                                          > > > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                                          > > > > give them some 
                                          > > > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                                          > > > > misrepresented as 
                                          > > > > the things on which they are based. African or
                                          > > not,
                                          > > > > those are 
                                          > > > > fakes. 
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a
                                          > > museum
                                          > > > > to present the 
                                          > > > > public with fakes than with nothing African at
                                          > > all:
                                          > > > > it would be 
                                          > > > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                                          > > > > reproductions. Fraud 
                                          > > > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                                          > > > > early in the morning 
                                          > > > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the
                                          > > mission
                                          > > > > of any 
                                          > > > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly
                                          > > hang
                                          > > > > a copy of a work 
                                          > > > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                                          > > > > Picasso took 
                                          > > > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did
                                          > > -
                                          > > > > he predates the 
                                          > > > > mass production of fake African art), they'd
                                          > > still
                                          > > > > be fakes. His 
                                          > > > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might
                                          > > very
                                          > > > > well have served 
                                          > > > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant
                                          > > to
                                          > > > > whether they were 
                                          > > > > fake or not.
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > > Steve Price
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg
                                          > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                          > > > > >
                                          > > > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me
                                          > > for
                                          > > > > saying
                                          > > > > > this, but it is important for someone to say
                                          > > it,
                                          > > > > so
                                          > > > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African
                                          > > art
                                          > > > > > objects fake. (Lee went so
                                          > > uncharacteristicall y
                                          > > > > silent
                                          > > > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who
                                          > > benefited
                                          > > > > > from their originality, African artists are
                                          > > bound
                                          > > > > but
                                          > > > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                                          > > > > thinking
                                          > > > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                                          > > > > anger
                                          > > > > > and disappointment to collectors of African
                                          > > art.
                                          > > > > But,
                                          > > > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover
                                          > > of
                                          > > > > > Anon.
                                          > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > Anon
                                          > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                                          > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > All,
                                          > > > > > > I agree with you all...
                                          > > > > > > But i think that someone should write all
                                          > > this
                                          > > > > to
                                          > > > > > > UCM's Library...
                                          > > > > > > And tell them that not every african
                                          > > collector
                                          > > > > know
                                          > > > > > > what is
                                          > > > > > > Authentic ...
                                          > > > > > > In the special issue of African Art about
                                          > > Fake
                                          > > > > and
                                          > > > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote
                                          > > :
                                          > > > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that
                                          > > after
                                          > > > > few
                                          > > > > > > month
                                          > > > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                          > > > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                          > > 
                                          > > > > > > Regards,
                                          > > > > > > Ari
                                          > > > > > > ----- Original Message ----- 
                                          > > > > > > From: Paul De Lucco 
                                          > > > > > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                                          > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                          > > > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                          > > > > African
                                          > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at
                                          > > UCM's
                                          > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > Greetings:
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in
                                          > > the
                                          > > > > glass
                                          > > > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                                          > > > > correct.
                                          > > > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. 
                                          > > This
                                          > > > > > > collection is made up of very dubious
                                          > > pieces. 
                                          > > > > This
                                          > > > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                          > > > > > > discussions as to what constitutes
                                          > > "authentic." 
                                          > > > > The
                                          > > > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant
                                          > > beetle?)
                                          > > > > and
                                          > > > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                                          > > > > left
                                          > > > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in
                                          > > the
                                          > > > > third
                                          > > > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a
                                          > > catalogue
                                          > > > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                                          > > > > collectors
                                          > > > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of
                                          > > authenticity
                                          > > > > to
                                          > > > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot
                                          > > see
                                          > > > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                          > > > > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                                          > > > > donated
                                          > > > > > > for a tax write-off.) 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have
                                          > > a
                                          > > > > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > Regards,
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > Paul 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > ----- Original Message ----- 
                                          > > > > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes 
                                          > > > > > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com 
                                          > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                                          > > > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                          > > > > African
                                          > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at
                                          > > UCM's
                                          > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com,
                                          > > "ari
                                          > > > > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                                          > > > > > > >
                                          > > > > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at
                                          > > UCM's
                                          > > > > > > Library
                                          > > > > > > >
                                          > > > > > >
                                          > > > > >
                                          > > > >
                                          > > >
                                          > >
                                          > http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
                                          > > > > > > >
                                          > > > > > > Hello,
                                          > > > > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are
                                          > > fakes,
                                          > > > > most
                                          > > > > > > of them are pure 
                                          > > > > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?)
                                          > > the
                                          > > > > > > suku of the first picture. 
                                          > > > > > > Some look like coming directly from a
                                          > > horror
                                          > > > > > > show, or "star wars". 
                                          > > > > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                                          > > > > > > Yours
                                          > > > > > > JP Estrampes
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119)
                                          > > Information
                                          > > > > > > __________
                                          > > > > > > 
                                          > > > > > > This message was checked by NOD32
                                          > > antivirus
                                          > > > > > > system.
                                          > > > > > > http://www.eset. com
                                          > > > > > >
                                          > > > > >
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > > 
                                          > > > >
                                          > > >
                                          > > 
                                          > > 
                                          > >
                                          >


                                        • Lee Rubinstein
                                          Hi, Steve: I understand the points you are making about authenticity, forgery and misrepresentation. There is an inherent ambiguity in the use of terms and
                                          Message 20 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                                            Hi, Steve:

                                            I understand the points you are making about authenticity, forgery and misrepresentation.  There is an inherent ambiguity in the use of terms and phrases such as authentic and "African art";  given the multiple elements of discussion, it is sometimes difficult in informal discourse to be crystal clear as to which aspect one is referring.  Briefly, the distinctions which I aim -- but perhaps have failed -- to clarify are these:

                                            Firstly, with regard to the classification of an object as authentic African art -- and/or its exclusion from said class, I think your statement assumes falsely a universal expectation that "authentic African art" means ritually used objects in the sense which is shared by many individuals -- but not all.  The definitions which are accepted within some communities do not necessarily have significance or importance in others.  We are not all pursuing the same "ideal" in the objects which we find meaningful, and there seems to be a futile insistence that everyone must define authenticity and African art in the same way.   The point which I am trying to make here is that reproduction does not disqualify a work from being classified as African art, and the assumption that every viewer or buyer is seeking ritually used pieces and necessarily defines "African art" as that which satisfies the criteria of provable ritual use is, I think, overly narrow.  (On the other hand, works which can indeed be traced to ritual use still may not satisfy other requirements of various collectors, curators and individuals on the basis of other constraints such as age and media.) Although it would make life simpler if not far less interesting, it is not possible to arrive upon a single concept of authenticity or African art -- especially given the fact that the IDEA of African art is a purely theoretical, imposed construct which can and will continue to have diverse meanings and values. 

                                            Secondly, a finely crafted reproduction may or may not be created with the intention to deceive.  Although you present one scenario of possible intent to deceive, I don't assume that such practices are always the scenario in which reproductions are created nor do I further assume that the artisan who crafts the work is necessarily the same individual (or shares the intent) to change an object's appearance or to represent the work falsely as something which it is not.  Misrepresentation is a condition produced by the market (and is a condition which may be inserted into loci of production as a motivation) but it is not necessarily a precondition for all instances of creation from which these objects emerge.

                                            Lee

                                            On Jan 15, 2008, at 3:26 PM, Steve Price wrote:

                                            Hi Lee

                                            You wrote, "... 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?"

                                            A Cameroonian can make a byeri figure, patinate it, stick its base in 
                                            the ground for a couple of weeks to cause some rotting and erosion. 
                                            He will be paid by someone who will represent the figure as an old 
                                            Fang reliquary guardian and sell it in the west. The item is 
                                            authentically African, and if it warrants being called art, it's 
                                            authentic African art. Who cares? The only thing that's important 
                                            is that it isn't a Fang reliquary guardian. That makes it a forgery, 
                                            whether it was made in Africa or Asia. 

                                            A forgery of a Rolex isn't an authentic Rolex. Who cares whether it 
                                            was made in Switzerland or in China? The only thing that's important 
                                            is that it isn't a Rolex. That makes it a forgery.

                                            Steve Price 

                                            --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, 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: 
                                            http://www.universi tyofafricanart. org/Image/ Text/afilaka. pdf 
                                            > and http://www.universi tyofafricanart. 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 
                                            > identification and assessment of object authenticity even through 
                                            a 
                                            > well-informed visual assessment of style. Further, the 
                                            assumptions 
                                            > made regarding the authorship of works as a criterion of 
                                            establishing 
                                            > authenticity also appears rather complicated. Too, as I have 
                                            cited 
                                            > this example in previous discussions, the fact that ritual masks 
                                            and 
                                            > tourist masks are created by the same hand, trebles the ambiguity 
                                            and 
                                            > difficulty in attributing authenticity and cultural origin to many 
                                            an 
                                            > object. So, beyond even the alleged subterfuge of 
                                            misrepresentation, 
                                            > we have the challenge of the more subtle subterfuge of 
                                            > misidentification derived from an over-stated mastery in 
                                            > distinguishing the features which constitute assessments of 
                                            > authenticity. This range of ambiguities does not even take into 
                                            > account the judgments which are made regarding the objects 
                                            produced 
                                            > by the same hands to fulfill both the requirements of ritual use 
                                            and 
                                            > commercial demand! Further, I would also like to point out that 
                                            the 
                                            > misrepresentation often does not originate with the carver but 
                                            rather 
                                            > may be created through various levels of conspiratorial collusion 
                                            at 
                                            > market levels to add value to works traded (sold, auctioned, 
                                            > donated). As Dr. Roy indicates, efforts are often made to seek 
                                            > "expert" opinion to support accurate identification and 
                                            > authentication; yet, I am inclined to wonder about the relative 
                                            > frequency -- and accessibility -- of such fastidious referencing. 
                                            I 
                                            > would imagine that assessments are far more often defaulted to 
                                            less 
                                            > authoritative sources than the indigenous sources -- even the 
                                            > creators themselves, when possible, who might best provide the 
                                            > highest level of scrutiny and commentary with regard to ritual 
                                            > authenticity.
                                            > 
                                            > In addition to my resistance to attributing nefarious intent to 
                                            the 
                                            > artisans, one must again consider the context in which artistic 
                                            > production is often undertaken. As it is indeed challenging to 
                                            > distinguish among objects, so too is it a broad stroke to 
                                            attribute 
                                            > the negative, deceptive intent which arises through market-
                                            motivated 
                                            > greed to all participants in the process of creating 
                                            reproductions. 
                                            > Controlling and exacting value from African-originated commodities 
                                            > (minerals, oil, art...) is among the most significant challenges 
                                            in 
                                            > African economic development. Relocating value-addition to the 
                                            > product before it leaves the continent and thus contributing more 
                                            to 
                                            > African economies remains, I think, the great challenge in all 
                                            fields 
                                            > of global trade of products from Africa. Within the realm of art 
                                            > both African and non-African, there is considerable room for 
                                            > improvement in the way in which financial gains are apportioned 
                                            > between artists and purveyors as well.
                                            > 
                                            > Returning to the realm of curatorial responsibility to identify 
                                            and 
                                            > present accurately works on exhibition, anyone who has mounted an 
                                            > exhibition or sought to document conclusively a previously 
                                            > undocumented object recognizes the challenges inherent in these 
                                            > undertakings. Suggesting (perhaps hyperbolically) that "Had they 
                                            > opened any decent book on African art they would have seen a 
                                            dramatic 
                                            > difference between the illustrated works and the claptrap they 
                                            chose 
                                            > for their exhibition" presumes wrongly, I think, that what might 
                                            > become clear to a more experienced eye is so obvious at first 
                                            glance 
                                            > or with a minimal effort. While I appreciate the emotion and idea 
                                            > behind the suggestion, the fact that all our combined hours and 
                                            years 
                                            > of exploration still barely scrape the surfaces of even one mere 
                                            > corner of this vast field might provide a fair reminder that as 
                                            > evolves the art, so too evolves the eye and the understanding of 
                                            it. 
                                            > Again, many museums have neither the human nor the financial 
                                            > resources to provide the curatorial expertise suggested here.
                                            > 
                                            > Still, the offense taken and the suggestion of the wide 
                                            availability 
                                            > of "honorable pieces" and "collectors who would be glad to share 
                                            > their treasures" reminds me of the persistence of political and 
                                            > economic machinations that frame the process through which works 
                                            are 
                                            > indeed allowed -- or disallowed from -- public exhibition. 
                                            > Personally, though to a limited extent, I have engaged in efforts 
                                            to 
                                            > engage various institutions in exhibitions of works which have 
                                            > included well-documented, authenticated and even canonical African 
                                            > works to be met with resistance stemming from what I perceive to 
                                            be 
                                            > politics of social and economic exclusion and a limited body of 
                                            > individuals seeking to control the flow of objects and ideas. 
                                            > Efforts continue to be made to maintain a culture of exclusion and 
                                            > exclusivity that insists upon limiting public presentation to 
                                            objects 
                                            > belonging to certain institutions and/or to a limited sphere of 
                                            > collectors who are also institutional patrons and benefactors. In 
                                            > many ways the museum community often appears to be as eagerly 
                                            > committed to the same control of value as is evidenced in the 
                                            > commercial realm. Ideally, this is just a rough patch in the 
                                            West's 
                                            > transitioning African material culture from the ethnographic to 
                                            the 
                                            > aesthetic.
                                            > 
                                            > Lee
                                            > 
                                            > On Jan 15, 2008, at 2:29 PM, Steve Price wrote:
                                            > 
                                            > > Hi Anon
                                            > >
                                            > > I was not aware that Henry Drewal, although an American born
                                            > > caucasian, is actually a Yoruba chief. Knowing that, if he carves
                                            > > masks for Yoruba festivities, they are Yoruba carvings.
                                            > >
                                            > > As for Cameroonians making byeri figures with applied patination 
                                            and
                                            > > intentional erosion and selling them to westerners as reliquary
                                            > > guardians made by Fang carvers 100 years ago, I think we are at an
                                            > > impasse. You see them as artists expanding their creativity, I see
                                            > > them as forgers. Perhaps we've reached the point at which we 
                                            should
                                            > > just agree to disagree. That would work for me.
                                            > >
                                            > > Steve Price
                                            > >
                                            > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg <okdg@> wrote:
                                            > > >
                                            > > > Dear Steve:
                                            > > >
                                            > > > Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an
                                            > > > AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary
                                            > > > perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                                            > > > understand. Yet from a convoluted Yoruba perspective,
                                            > > > Drewal is accepted as an important Yoruba man in the
                                            > > > Ijebu, Egbado and Egba communities that consider him
                                            > > > important to their rituals and other activities. It is
                                            > > > different from a Chinese shoe by a Chinese guy who has
                                            > > > never been to the US and has no connection with
                                            > > > Americans.
                                            > > >
                                            > > > We may call the African artists name like forgers.
                                            > > > They will be amused. They used to be called primitive,
                                            > > > tribal, naive etc.
                                            > > >
                                            > > > If an artist is working today, he is a contemporary
                                            > > > artist free to do whatever s'he likes, even though
                                            > > > we'd like to control the African artist and
                                            > > > anticipate/stereoty pe his work.
                                            > > >
                                            > > > Anon
                                            > > >
                                            > > >
                                            > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                            > > >
                                            > > > > Hi Anon
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > > I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning.
                                            > > > > A forger isn't
                                            > > > > an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake
                                            > > > > Fang byeri
                                            > > > > figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver.
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > > The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't
                                            > > > > bother me at
                                            > > > > all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate
                                            > > > > artistic convention
                                            > > > > just won't settle down into the part of my brain
                                            > > > > that holds what I
                                            > > > > think of as sensible things.
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > > Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba
                                            > > > > commission, and those
                                            > > > > masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what?
                                            > > > > I'm wearing
                                            > > > > shoes made in China. Does that make the factory
                                            > > > > workers who sewed my
                                            > > > > shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet
                                            > > > > they don't think so
                                            > > > > either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry
                                            > > > > Drewal's carvings
                                            > > > > made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba
                                            > > > > masks.
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > > Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving
                                            > > > > chi waras that
                                            > > > > Bamana people dance. We're talking about
                                            > > > > Cameroonians carving chi
                                            > > > > waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they
                                            > > > > can fool into
                                            > > > > thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by
                                            > > > > Bamana many years
                                            > > > > ago. That's not an artist expressing his
                                            > > > > creativity, it's a craftsman
                                            > > > > making forgeries.
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > > Steve Price
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg
                                            > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > > Dear Steve:
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > > That the African artist is defying stereotypes
                                            > > > > seems
                                            > > > > > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                                            > > > > > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding
                                            > > > > to
                                            > > > > > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                                            > > > > > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries.
                                            > > > > This
                                            > > > > > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                                            > > > > > busily carve pieces to look like the work of
                                            > > > > African
                                            > > > > > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                                            > > > > > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give
                                            > > > > them
                                            > > > > > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                                            > > > > > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what
                                            > > > > does
                                            > > > > > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                                            > > > > > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                                            > > > > > recognize or enshrine.
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                                            > > > > > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the
                                            > > > > barrier.
                                            > > > > > There are American Impressionists although
                                            > > > > > Impressionism is European.
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                                            > > > > > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                                            > > > > > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art?
                                            > > > > A
                                            > > > > > fake?
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > > Anon
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                            > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > Hi Anon
                                            > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is
                                            > > > > made
                                            > > > > > > with the
                                            > > > > > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking
                                            > > > > that
                                            > > > > > > it's something
                                            > > > > > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                                            > > > > > > carve pieces to look
                                            > > > > > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                                            > > > > > > places, fix them up
                                            > > > > > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                                            > > > > > > give them some
                                            > > > > > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                                            > > > > > > misrepresented as
                                            > > > > > > the things on which they are based. African or
                                            > > > > not,
                                            > > > > > > those are
                                            > > > > > > fakes.
                                            > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a
                                            > > > > museum
                                            > > > > > > to present the
                                            > > > > > > public with fakes than with nothing African at
                                            > > > > all:
                                            > > > > > > it would be
                                            > > > > > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                                            > > > > > > reproductions. Fraud
                                            > > > > > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                                            > > > > > > early in the morning
                                            > > > > > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the
                                            > > > > mission
                                            > > > > > > of any
                                            > > > > > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly
                                            > > > > hang
                                            > > > > > > a copy of a work
                                            > > > > > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                                            > > > > > > Picasso took
                                            > > > > > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did
                                            > > > > -
                                            > > > > > > he predates the
                                            > > > > > > mass production of fake African art), they'd
                                            > > > > still
                                            > > > > > > be fakes. His
                                            > > > > > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might
                                            > > > > very
                                            > > > > > > well have served
                                            > > > > > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant
                                            > > > > to
                                            > > > > > > whether they were
                                            > > > > > > fake or not.
                                            > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > Steve Price
                                            > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, Mo Okdg
                                            > > > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                            > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me
                                            > > > > for
                                            > > > > > > saying
                                            > > > > > > > this, but it is important for someone to say
                                            > > > > it,
                                            > > > > > > so
                                            > > > > > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African
                                            > > > > art
                                            > > > > > > > objects fake. (Lee went so
                                            > > > > uncharacteristicall y
                                            > > > > > > silent
                                            > > > > > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who
                                            > > > > benefited
                                            > > > > > > > from their originality, African artists are
                                            > > > > bound
                                            > > > > > > but
                                            > > > > > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                                            > > > > > > thinking
                                            > > > > > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                                            > > > > > > anger
                                            > > > > > > > and disappointment to collectors of African
                                            > > > > art.
                                            > > > > > > But,
                                            > > > > > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover
                                            > > > > of
                                            > > > > > > > Anon.
                                            > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > Anon
                                            > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                                            > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > > All,
                                            > > > > > > > > I agree with you all...
                                            > > > > > > > > But i think that someone should write all
                                            > > > > this
                                            > > > > > > to
                                            > > > > > > > > UCM's Library...
                                            > > > > > > > > And tell them that not every african
                                            > > > > collector
                                            > > > > > > know
                                            > > > > > > > > what is
                                            > > > > > > > > Authentic ...
                                            > > > > > > > > In the special issue of African Art about
                                            > > > > Fake
                                            > > > > > > and
                                            > > > > > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote
                                            > > > > :
                                            > > > > > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that
                                            > > > > after
                                            > > > > > > few
                                            > > > > > > > > month
                                            > > > > > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                            > > > > > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                            > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > > Regards,
                                            > > > > > > > > Ari
                                            > > > > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                                            > > > > > > > > From: Paul De Lucco
                                            > > > > > > > > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
                                            > > > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                            > > > > > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                            > > > > > > African
                                            > > > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at
                                            > > > > UCM's
                                            > > > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                            > > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > > Greetings:
                                            > > > > > > > >
                                            > > > > > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in
                                            > > > > the
                                            > > > > > > glass
                                            > > > > > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                                            > > > > > > correct.
                                            > > > > > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.
                                            > > > > This
                                            > > > > > > > > collection is made up of very dubious
                                            > > > > pieces.
                                            > > > > > > This
                                            > > > > > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                            > > > > > > > > discussions as to what constitutes
                                            > > > > "authentic."
                                            > > > > > > The
                                            > > > > > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant
                                            > > > > beetle?)
                                            > > > > > > and
                                            > > > > > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                                            > > > > > > left
                                            > > > > > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in
                                            > > > > the
                                            > > > > > > third
                                            > > > > > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a
                                            > > > > catalogue
                                            > > > > > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                                            > > > > > > collectors
                                            > > > > > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of
                                            > > > > authenticity
                                            > > > > > > to
                                            > > > > > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot
                                            > > > > see
                                            > > > > > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                            > >

                                            (Message over 64 KB, truncated)

                                          • Steve Price
                                            Hi Lee I think the red herring in the trail is the phrase authentic African art . It leads to the idea that if it s art (whatever that means) that was made
                                            Message 21 of 26 , Jan 15, 2008
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                                              Hi Lee

                                              I think the red herring in the trail is the phrase "authentic African
                                              art". It leads to the idea that if it's art (whatever
                                              that means) that was made in Africa, then, of course, it's
                                              authentic African art. But that's hardly ever the issue to a
                                              collector. He's not collecting something because it's made in
                                              Africa, he's collecting it because he thinks it's Fang, or Baule, or
                                              Bamana, or Songye, or Yoruba, or ... well, you get the idea. If it's
                                              made in Cameroon to look like Fang, it's not authentic Fang art. If
                                              he paid the price of an old Fang byeri for something carved in
                                              Cameroon last month, he was defrauded.

                                              Now, I understand that some contemporary African artisans are not
                                              part of a chain leading from carver to marketplace with intent to
                                              defraud. But the overwhelming majority of the African art in the
                                              marketplace is made in Africa, but not for local use or by the
                                              peoples who traditionally make and use them. Right this minute there
                                              are 1500 items listed in the eBay
                                              category "Antiques/Ethnographic/African". Probably 90+%
                                              are represented as being at least 40 years old, have age-related
                                              features (holes, wood rot, abraded surfaces patination, for example)
                                              and are claimed to be ritually used pieces made by carvers of tribes
                                              who traditionally made and used carvings of that style. If those
                                              claims are true for even 5%, I'd be amazed. Claiming that things are
                                              not what they actually are for the purpose of enhancing their market
                                              value is fraud, pure and simple. This is not to deny that some
                                              talented carvers create excellent sculpture in Africa. But to
                                              pretend that this negates the rampant fakery is self-deception.

                                              That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

                                              Steve Price


                                              --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Lee Rubinstein
                                              <LeeRubinstein@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > Hi, Steve:
                                              >
                                              > I understand the points you are making about authenticity, forgery
                                              > and misrepresentation. There is an inherent ambiguity in the use
                                              of
                                              > terms and phrases such as authentic and "African art"; given the
                                              > multiple elements of discussion, it is sometimes difficult in
                                              > informal discourse to be crystal clear as to which aspect one is
                                              > referring. Briefly, the distinctions which I aim -- but perhaps
                                              have
                                              > failed -- to clarify are these:
                                              >
                                              > Firstly, with regard to the classification of an object as
                                              authentic
                                              > African art -- and/or its exclusion from said class, I think your
                                              > statement assumes falsely a universal expectation that "authentic
                                              > African art" means ritually used objects in the sense which is
                                              shared
                                              > by many individuals -- but not all. The definitions which are
                                              > accepted within some communities do not necessarily have
                                              significance
                                              > or importance in others. We are not all pursuing the same "ideal"
                                              in
                                              > the objects which we find meaningful, and there seems to be a
                                              futile
                                              > insistence that everyone must define authenticity and African art
                                              in
                                              > the same way. The point which I am trying to make here is that
                                              > reproduction does not disqualify a work from being classified as
                                              > African art, and the assumption that every viewer or buyer is
                                              seeking
                                              > ritually used pieces and necessarily defines "African art" as that
                                              > which satisfies the criteria of provable ritual use is, I think,
                                              > overly narrow. (On the other hand, works which can indeed be
                                              traced
                                              > to ritual use still may not satisfy other requirements of various
                                              > collectors, curators and individuals on the basis of other
                                              > constraints such as age and media.) Although it would make life
                                              > simpler if not far less interesting, it is not possible to arrive
                                              > upon a single concept of authenticity or African art -- especially
                                              > given the fact that the IDEA of African art is a purely
                                              theoretical,
                                              > imposed construct which can and will continue to have diverse
                                              > meanings and values.
                                              >
                                              > Secondly, a finely crafted reproduction may or may not be created
                                              > with the intention to deceive. Although you present one scenario
                                              of
                                              > possible intent to deceive, I don't assume that such practices are
                                              > always the scenario in which reproductions are created nor do I
                                              > further assume that the artisan who crafts the work is necessarily
                                              > the same individual (or shares the intent) to change an object's
                                              > appearance or to represent the work falsely as something which it
                                              is
                                              > not. Misrepresentation is a condition produced by the market (and
                                              is
                                              > a condition which may be inserted into loci of production as a
                                              > motivation) but it is not necessarily a precondition for all
                                              > instances of creation from which these objects emerge.
                                              >
                                              > Lee
                                              >
                                              > On Jan 15, 2008, at 3:26 PM, Steve Price wrote:
                                              >
                                              > > Hi Lee
                                              > >
                                              > > You wrote, "... 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?"
                                              > >
                                              > > A Cameroonian can make a byeri figure, patinate it, stick its
                                              base in
                                              > > the ground for a couple of weeks to cause some rotting and
                                              erosion.
                                              > > He will be paid by someone who will represent the figure as an old
                                              > > Fang reliquary guardian and sell it in the west. The item is
                                              > > authentically African, and if it warrants being called art, it's
                                              > > authentic African art. Who cares? The only thing that's important
                                              > > is that it isn't a Fang reliquary guardian. That makes it a
                                              forgery,
                                              > > whether it was made in Africa or Asia.
                                              > >
                                              > > A forgery of a Rolex isn't an authentic Rolex. Who cares whether
                                              it
                                              > > was made in Switzerland or in China? The only thing that's
                                              important
                                              > > is that it isn't a Rolex. That makes it a forgery.
                                              > >
                                              > > Steve Price
                                              > >
                                              > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, 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:
                                              > > http://www.universityofafricanart.org/Image/Text/afilaka.pdf
                                              > > > 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
                                              > > > identification and assessment of object authenticity even
                                              through
                                              > > a
                                              > > > well-informed visual assessment of style. Further, the
                                              > > assumptions
                                              > > > made regarding the authorship of works as a criterion of
                                              > > establishing
                                              > > > authenticity also appears rather complicated. Too, as I have
                                              > > cited
                                              > > > this example in previous discussions, the fact that ritual masks
                                              > > and
                                              > > > tourist masks are created by the same hand, trebles the
                                              ambiguity
                                              > > and
                                              > > > difficulty in attributing authenticity and cultural origin to
                                              many
                                              > > an
                                              > > > object. So, beyond even the alleged subterfuge of
                                              > > misrepresentation,
                                              > > > we have the challenge of the more subtle subterfuge of
                                              > > > misidentification derived from an over-stated mastery in
                                              > > > distinguishing the features which constitute assessments of
                                              > > > authenticity. This range of ambiguities does not even take into
                                              > > > account the judgments which are made regarding the objects
                                              > > produced
                                              > > > by the same hands to fulfill both the requirements of ritual use
                                              > > and
                                              > > > commercial demand! Further, I would also like to point out that
                                              > > the
                                              > > > misrepresentation often does not originate with the carver but
                                              > > rather
                                              > > > may be created through various levels of conspiratorial
                                              collusion
                                              > > at
                                              > > > market levels to add value to works traded (sold, auctioned,
                                              > > > donated). As Dr. Roy indicates, efforts are often made to seek
                                              > > > "expert" opinion to support accurate identification and
                                              > > > authentication; yet, I am inclined to wonder about the relative
                                              > > > frequency -- and accessibility -- of such fastidious
                                              referencing.
                                              > > I
                                              > > > would imagine that assessments are far more often defaulted to
                                              > > less
                                              > > > authoritative sources than the indigenous sources -- even the
                                              > > > creators themselves, when possible, who might best provide the
                                              > > > highest level of scrutiny and commentary with regard to ritual
                                              > > > authenticity.
                                              > > >
                                              > > > In addition to my resistance to attributing nefarious intent to
                                              > > the
                                              > > > artisans, one must again consider the context in which artistic
                                              > > > production is often undertaken. As it is indeed challenging to
                                              > > > distinguish among objects, so too is it a broad stroke to
                                              > > attribute
                                              > > > the negative, deceptive intent which arises through market-
                                              > > motivated
                                              > > > greed to all participants in the process of creating
                                              > > reproductions.
                                              > > > Controlling and exacting value from African-originated
                                              commodities
                                              > > > (minerals, oil, art...) is among the most significant challenges
                                              > > in
                                              > > > African economic development. Relocating value-addition to the
                                              > > > product before it leaves the continent and thus contributing
                                              more
                                              > > to
                                              > > > African economies remains, I think, the great challenge in all
                                              > > fields
                                              > > > of global trade of products from Africa. Within the realm of art
                                              > > > both African and non-African, there is considerable room for
                                              > > > improvement in the way in which financial gains are apportioned
                                              > > > between artists and purveyors as well.
                                              > > >
                                              > > > Returning to the realm of curatorial responsibility to identify
                                              > > and
                                              > > > present accurately works on exhibition, anyone who has mounted
                                              an
                                              > > > exhibition or sought to document conclusively a previously
                                              > > > undocumented object recognizes the challenges inherent in these
                                              > > > undertakings. Suggesting (perhaps hyperbolically) that "Had they
                                              > > > opened any decent book on African art they would have seen a
                                              > > dramatic
                                              > > > difference between the illustrated works and the claptrap they
                                              > > chose
                                              > > > for their exhibition" presumes wrongly, I think, that what might
                                              > > > become clear to a more experienced eye is so obvious at first
                                              > > glance
                                              > > > or with a minimal effort. While I appreciate the emotion and
                                              idea
                                              > > > behind the suggestion, the fact that all our combined hours and
                                              > > years
                                              > > > of exploration still barely scrape the surfaces of even one mere
                                              > > > corner of this vast field might provide a fair reminder that as
                                              > > > evolves the art, so too evolves the eye and the understanding of
                                              > > it.
                                              > > > Again, many museums have neither the human nor the financial
                                              > > > resources to provide the curatorial expertise suggested here.
                                              > > >
                                              > > > Still, the offense taken and the suggestion of the wide
                                              > > availability
                                              > > > of "honorable pieces" and "collectors who would be glad to share
                                              > > > their treasures" reminds me of the persistence of political and
                                              > > > economic machinations that frame the process through which works
                                              > > are
                                              > > > indeed allowed -- or disallowed from -- public exhibition.
                                              > > > Personally, though to a limited extent, I have engaged in
                                              efforts
                                              > > to
                                              > > > engage various institutions in exhibitions of works which have
                                              > > > included well-documented, authenticated and even canonical
                                              African
                                              > > > works to be met with resistance stemming from what I perceive to
                                              > > be
                                              > > > politics of social and economic exclusion and a limited body of
                                              > > > individuals seeking to control the flow of objects and ideas.
                                              > > > Efforts continue to be made to maintain a culture of exclusion
                                              and
                                              > > > exclusivity that insists upon limiting public presentation to
                                              > > objects
                                              > > > belonging to certain institutions and/or to a limited sphere of
                                              > > > collectors who are also institutional patrons and benefactors.
                                              In
                                              > > > many ways the museum community often appears to be as eagerly
                                              > > > committed to the same control of value as is evidenced in the
                                              > > > commercial realm. Ideally, this is just a rough patch in the
                                              > > West's
                                              > > > transitioning African material culture from the ethnographic to
                                              > > the
                                              > > > aesthetic.
                                              > > >
                                              > > > Lee
                                              > > >
                                              > > > On Jan 15, 2008, at 2:29 PM, Steve Price wrote:
                                              > > >
                                              > > > > Hi Anon
                                              > > > >
                                              > > > > I was not aware that Henry Drewal, although an American born
                                              > > > > caucasian, is actually a Yoruba chief. Knowing that, if he
                                              carves
                                              > > > > masks for Yoruba festivities, they are Yoruba carvings.
                                              > > > >
                                              > > > > As for Cameroonians making byeri figures with applied
                                              patination
                                              > > and
                                              > > > > intentional erosion and selling them to westerners as
                                              reliquary
                                              > > > > guardians made by Fang carvers 100 years ago, I think we are
                                              at an
                                              > > > > impasse. You see them as artists expanding their creativity,
                                              I see
                                              > > > > them as forgers. Perhaps we've reached the point at which we
                                              > > should
                                              > > > > just agree to disagree. That would work for me.
                                              > > > >
                                              > > > > Steve Price
                                              > > > >
                                              > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg <okdg@> wrote:
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > > Dear Steve:
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > > Henry Drewal is a white American man, and also an
                                              > > > > > AUTHENTIC Yoruba chief. From a western binary
                                              > > > > > perspective of either/or, this is difficult to
                                              > > > > > understand. Yet from a convoluted Yoruba perspective,
                                              > > > > > Drewal is accepted as an important Yoruba man in the
                                              > > > > > Ijebu, Egbado and Egba communities that consider him
                                              > > > > > important to their rituals and other activities. It is
                                              > > > > > different from a Chinese shoe by a Chinese guy who has
                                              > > > > > never been to the US and has no connection with
                                              > > > > > Americans.
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > > We may call the African artists name like forgers.
                                              > > > > > They will be amused. They used to be called primitive,
                                              > > > > > tribal, naive etc.
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > > If an artist is working today, he is a contemporary
                                              > > > > > artist free to do whatever s'he likes, even though
                                              > > > > > we'd like to control the African artist and
                                              > > > > > anticipate/stereotype his work.
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > > Anon
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > Hi Anon
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > I'm having a terrible time following your reasoning.
                                              > > > > > > A forger isn't
                                              > > > > > > an artist, he's a forger. A Cameroonian making fake
                                              > > > > > > Fang byeri
                                              > > > > > > figures this week isn't a 19th century Fang carver.
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > The notion that artistic conventions evolve doesn't
                                              > > > > > > bother me at
                                              > > > > > > all. But the notion that forgery is a legitimate
                                              > > > > > > artistic convention
                                              > > > > > > just won't settle down into the part of my brain
                                              > > > > > > that holds what I
                                              > > > > > > think of as sensible things.
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > Henry Drewal carved gelede masks under Yoruba
                                              > > > > > > commission, and those
                                              > > > > > > masks were danced by local Yoruba people. So what?
                                              > > > > > > I'm wearing
                                              > > > > > > shoes made in China. Does that make the factory
                                              > > > > > > workers who sewed my
                                              > > > > > > shoes Virginians? I don't think so, and I'll bet
                                              > > > > > > they don't think so
                                              > > > > > > either. By the same reasoning, I don't think Henry
                                              > > > > > > Drewal's carvings
                                              > > > > > > made him a Yoruba, so his masks weren't Yoruba
                                              > > > > > > masks.
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > Anyway, we're not talking about Cameroonians carving
                                              > > > > > > chi waras that
                                              > > > > > > Bamana people dance. We're talking about
                                              > > > > > > Cameroonians carving chi
                                              > > > > > > waras to sell to Americans and Europeans that they
                                              > > > > > > can fool into
                                              > > > > > > thinking the chi waras were made by and danced by
                                              > > > > > > Bamana many years
                                              > > > > > > ago. That's not an artist expressing his
                                              > > > > > > creativity, it's a craftsman
                                              > > > > > > making forgeries.
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > Steve Price
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                                              > > > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > Dear Steve:
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > That the African artist is defying stereotypes
                                              > > > > > > seems
                                              > > > > > > > frustrating to speculators and collectors. These
                                              > > > > > > > artists, like artists elsewhere, are responding
                                              > > > > > > to
                                              > > > > > > > market desires. African artists are refusing to be
                                              > > > > > > > limited by externally=drawn "tribal" boundaries.
                                              > > > > > > This
                                              > > > > > > > is why, as you noticed, "Men in Cameroon workshops
                                              > > > > > > > busily carve pieces to look like the work of
                                              > > > > > > African
                                              > > > > > > > tribespeople from other places, fix them up with
                                              > > > > > > > artificial patination, bury them in dirt to give
                                              > > > > > > them
                                              > > > > > > > some rotted areas." But the real question is this:
                                              > > > > > > > When you call an artist Yoruba, or Bamana, what
                                              > > > > > > does
                                              > > > > > > > this really mean? It seems outsiders would like to
                                              > > > > > > > impose rigid boundaries that African do not always
                                              > > > > > > > recognize or enshrine.
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > What stops a Cameroonian artist from working in a
                                              > > > > > > > Dogon style? Only his/her imagination is the
                                              > > > > > > barrier.
                                              > > > > > > > There are American Impressionists although
                                              > > > > > > > Impressionism is European.
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > I once showed this group a Gelede mask dancing in
                                              > > > > > > > Egbado villages. It was carved by Henry Drewal and
                                              > > > > > > > commissioned by the villagers. Is this Yoruba art?
                                              > > > > > > A
                                              > > > > > > > fake?
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > Anon
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > --- Steve Price <sprice@> wrote:
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > Hi Anon
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > Surely, you don't deny that some African art is
                                              > > > > > > made
                                              > > > > > > > > with the
                                              > > > > > > > > intention of fooling the buyers into thinking
                                              > > > > > > that
                                              > > > > > > > > it's something
                                              > > > > > > > > that it isn't. Men in Cameroon workshops busily
                                              > > > > > > > > carve pieces to look
                                              > > > > > > > > like the work of African tribespeople from other
                                              > > > > > > > > places, fix them up
                                              > > > > > > > > with artificial patination, bury them in dirt to
                                              > > > > > > > > give them some
                                              > > > > > > > > rotted areas. The pieces are then sold by being
                                              > > > > > > > > misrepresented as
                                              > > > > > > > > the things on which they are based. African or
                                              > > > > > > not,
                                              > > > > > > > > those are
                                              > > > > > > > > fakes.
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > As for the issue of whether it's better for a
                                              > > > > > > museum
                                              > > > > > > > > to present the
                                              > > > > > > > > public with fakes than with nothing African at
                                              > > > > > > all:
                                              > > > > > > > > it would be
                                              > > > > > > > > better, but only if the fakes are presented as
                                              > > > > > > > > reproductions. Fraud
                                              > > > > > > > > (there are probably more polite words, but it's
                                              > > > > > > > > early in the morning
                                              > > > > > > > > and I can't think of one) is not part of the
                                              > > > > > > mission
                                              > > > > > > > > of any
                                              > > > > > > > > respectable museum. No curator would knowingly
                                              > > > > > > hang
                                              > > > > > > > > a copy of a work
                                              > > > > > > > > on a wall and label it the original. Even if
                                              > > > > > > > > Picasso took
                                              > > > > > > > > inspiration from fakes (and I don't think he did
                                              > > > > > > -
                                              > > > > > > > > he predates the
                                              > > > > > > > > mass production of fake African art), they'd
                                              > > > > > > still
                                              > > > > > > > > be fakes. His
                                              > > > > > > > > work is sufficiently stylized that fakes might
                                              > > > > > > very
                                              > > > > > > > > well have served
                                              > > > > > > > > the same purpose for him, but that's irrelevant
                                              > > > > > > to
                                              > > > > > > > > whether they were
                                              > > > > > > > > fake or not.
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > Steve Price
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com, Mo Okdg
                                              > > > > > > > > <okdg@> wrote:
                                              > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me
                                              > > > > > > for
                                              > > > > > > > > saying
                                              > > > > > > > > > this, but it is important for someone to say
                                              > > > > > > it,
                                              > > > > > > > > so
                                              > > > > > > > > > Anon will say: let no one again call African
                                              > > > > > > art
                                              > > > > > > > > > objects fake. (Lee went so
                                              > > > > > > uncharacteristically
                                              > > > > > > > > silent
                                              > > > > > > > > > on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who
                                              > > > > > > benefited
                                              > > > > > > > > > from their originality, African artists are
                                              > > > > > > bound
                                              > > > > > > > > but
                                              > > > > > > > > > not limited by tradition. Any other way of
                                              > > > > > > > > thinking
                                              > > > > > > > > > about this issue will only bring frustration,
                                              > > > > > > > > anger
                                              > > > > > > > > > and disappointment to collectors of African
                                              > > > > > > art.
                                              > > > > > > > > But,
                                              > > > > > > > > > can you say all sorts o things under the cover
                                              > > > > > > of
                                              > > > > > > > > > Anon.
                                              > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > Anon
                                              > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > --- ari birnbaum <a312@> wrote:
                                              > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > All,
                                              > > > > > > > > > > I agree with you all...
                                              > > > > > > > > > > But i think that someone should write all
                                              > > > > > > this
                                              > > > > > > > > to
                                              > > > > > > > > > > UCM's Library...
                                              > > > > > > > > > > And tell them that not every african
                                              > > > > > > collector
                                              > > > > > > > > know
                                              > > > > > > > > > > what is
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Authentic ...
                                              > > > > > > > > > > In the special issue of African Art about
                                              > > > > > > Fake
                                              > > > > > > > > and
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote
                                              > > > > > > :
                                              > > > > > > > > > > The biggest problem in African Art is that
                                              > > > > > > after
                                              > > > > > > > > few
                                              > > > > > > > > > > month
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                              > > > > > > > > > > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Regards,
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Ari
                                              > > > > > > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                                              > > > > > > > > > > From: Paul De Lucco
                                              > > > > > > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                              > > > > > > > > African
                                              > > > > > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                                              > > > > > > UCM's
                                              > > > > > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Greetings:
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in
                                              > > > > > > the
                                              > > > > > > > > glass
                                              > > > > > > > > > > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically
                                              > > > > > > > > correct.
                                              > > > > > > > > > > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes.
                                              > > > > > > This
                                              > > > > > > > > > > collection is made up of very dubious
                                              > > > > > > pieces.
                                              > > > > > > > > This
                                              > > > > > > > > > > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                              > > > > > > > > > > discussions as to what constitutes
                                              > > > > > > "authentic."
                                              > > > > > > > > The
                                              > > > > > > > > > > first mask in the first photo (a giant
                                              > > > > > > beetle?)
                                              > > > > > > > > and
                                              > > > > > > > > > > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding
                                              > > > > > > > > left
                                              > > > > > > > > > > and right and a figure crouched on top) in
                                              > > > > > > the
                                              > > > > > > > > third
                                              > > > > > > > > > > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a
                                              > > > > > > catalogue
                                              > > > > > > > > > > will be printed and, down the line, the
                                              > > > > > > > > collectors
                                              > > > > > > > > > > will use the catalogue as proof of
                                              > > > > > > authenticity
                                              > > > > > > > > to
                                              > > > > > > > > > > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot
                                              > > > > > > see
                                              > > > > > > > > > > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get
                                              > > > > > > > > donated
                                              > > > > > > > > > > for a tax write-off.)
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > I wonder who the curator is because I have
                                              > > > > > > a
                                              > > > > > > > > > > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Regards,
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Paul
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > ----- Original Message -----
                                              > > > > > > > > > > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                                              > > > > > > > > > > To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive
                                              > > > > > > > > African
                                              > > > > > > > > > > art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at
                                              > > > > > > UCM's
                                              > > > > > > > > > > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > --- In African_Arts@yahoogroups.com,
                                              > > > > > > "ari
                                              > > > > > > > > > > birnbaum" <a312@> wrote:
                                              > > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade" at
                                              > > > > > > UCM's
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Library
                                              > > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > http://www.digitalburg.com/artman/publish/article_3801.shtml
                                              > > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Hello,
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Surprising exhibit! these masks are
                                              > > > > > > fakes,
                                              > > > > > > > > most
                                              > > > > > > > > > > of them are pure
                                              > > > > > > > > > > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?)
                                              > > > > > > the
                                              > > > > > > > > > > suku of the first picture.
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Some look like coming directly from a
                                              > > > > > > horror
                                              > > > > > > > > > > show, or "star wars".
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Anthropology and education from these !!
                                              > > > > > > > > > > Yours
                                              > > > > > > > > > > JP Estrampes
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119)
                                              > > > > > > Information
                                              > > > > > > > > > > __________
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > > > This message was checked by NOD32
                                              > > > > > > antivirus
                                              > > > > > > > > > > system.
                                              > > > > > > > > > > http://www.eset.com
                                              > > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > > >
                                              > > > > >
                                              > > > >
                                              > > > >
                                              > > > >
                                              > > >
                                              > >
                                              > >
                                              > >
                                              >
                                            • Paul De Lucco
                                              Greetings, In my earlier remarks on the subject, I used the word dubious to describe in general the authenticity of the pieces on exhibit at UCM because it
                                              Message 22 of 26 , Jan 16, 2008
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                                                Greetings,
                                                 
                                                In my earlier remarks on the subject, I used the word "dubious" to describe in general the authenticity of the pieces on exhibit at UCM because it is not easy to tell from a photo whether a piece is fraudulent or authentic.  In the case of the "bug" and the "Tshokwe" in the 1st photo, however, both pieces are such egregious fantasies, discernible right away, that I unhesitatingly call them fakes. I suggest that you add a 3rd category:  "Objects that incorporate well-known stylistic elements from one or more cultures and combine them in a strikingly bizarre, even outrageous, manner so as to catch the eye of a rushed traveler in an international airport."        
                                                 
                                                In the case of the Tshokwe mask, for example, it is not a subtle stylistic difference, say the lack of a "tshilengyelengye" on the forehead.  It is rather the distortion of Tshokwe stylistic elements to produce a polished, striking, evidently well-carved, mask with half figures emerging like growths from its sides while a full figure sits on top of the head. 
                                                 
                                                - Paul
                                                 
                                                 
                                                ----- Original Message -----
                                                Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 9:39 PM
                                                Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

                                                Perhaps I AM MISSING the BOAT here, but aren't we confusing two
                                                issues here?

                                                1. Objects that are closely following the perceived canonical
                                                attributes of authentic objects; e.g., an Ibeji smaller than 14", or
                                                the Luba artist using generally light wood.

                                                2. Objects that have distinct features not encountered in generally
                                                observed pieces; e.g., a white Bundu mask.

                                                These distinctions are useful in that the first type of objects are
                                                purported to be from the peoples,time period, or both, when in fact
                                                they are not. Such objects are fakes, unless a clear designation
                                                identifies them as 'not belonging to the peoples or the time period'.

                                                The second type of object creates a more difficult problem. In the
                                                interest of brevity, let me just suggest that we still do not have a
                                                comprehensive list of characteristics of a given mask or sculpture in
                                                African art. A carver may introduce new interpretation: witness the
                                                European influence on the Guro or Baule [among others] reflected in
                                                their TRADITIONAL objects. If we had only seen a Baule blolo bla male
                                                with traditional hair-do, and now come across one with a sola hat and
                                                britches, should we designate this latter figure as a fake? Of
                                                course, we know better in this specific situation, but Sieber
                                                observed in Praise Poems [p. xiii] that Katherine White stashed away
                                                a mask deep in the closet because 'experts' told her it was an
                                                atypical or a fake piece, only to learn years later that it was a
                                                genuine example of an unpublished style.
                                                It may be my eyesight or the quality of photographs, but I couldn't
                                                discern right away whether the objects in the UCM exhibition had
                                                telltale signs of fakery when they resemble the usually encountered
                                                masks and figures [I sure envy others with a sharper eyesight!]; and
                                                for objects with unusual features, the late sieber's statement keeps
                                                me from making a snap judgment, especially since often I do not even
                                                know the country from which the object originally came[or supposed to
                                                have come].

                                              • GARYGLS2000@aol.com
                                                Here is what Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times two years ago: A century from now, art historians will shake their heads in disbelief at what
                                                Message 23 of 26 , Jan 18, 2008
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                                                  Here is what Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times two years ago:
                                                  A century from now, art historians will shake their heads in disbelief at what universities were teaching circa 2005. How, they will wonder, could
                                                  scholars have been so obtuse? Entire courses devoted to that froth called French Impressionism; whole seminars to a prolific pasticheur named
                                                  Pablo Picasso, whose chief innovation lay in mining African art for modernist gold. As for the study of African art itself, it was relegated to the margins
                                                  of the discipline.

                                                   


                                                  -----Original Message-----
                                                  From: Mo Okdg <okdg@...>
                                                  To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
                                                  Sent: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 6:15 pm
                                                  Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

                                                  Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for saying
                                                  this, but it is important for someone to say it, so
                                                  Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                                                  objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristicall y silent
                                                  on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                                                  from their originality, African artists are bound but
                                                  not limited by tradition. Any other way of thinking
                                                  about this issue will only bring frustration, anger
                                                  and disappointment to collectors of African art. But,
                                                  can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                                                  Anon.

                                                  Anon

                                                  --- ari birnbaum <a312@.... il> wrote:

                                                  > All,
                                                  > I agree with you all...
                                                  > But i think that someone should write all this to
                                                  > UCM's Library...
                                                  > And tell them that not every african collector know
                                                  > what is
                                                  > Authentic ...
                                                  > In the special issue of African Art about Fake and
                                                  > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                                                  > The biggest problem in African Art is that after few
                                                  > month
                                                  > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                                  > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                                  > Regards,
                                                  > Ari
                                                  > ----- Original Message -----
                                                  > From: Paul De Lucco
                                                  > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
                                                  > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                                  > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                                                  > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                                                  > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > Greetings:
                                                  >
                                                  > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass
                                                  > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.
                                                  > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                                                  > collection is made up of very dubious pieces. This
                                                  > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                                  > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic." The
                                                  > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and
                                                  > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left
                                                  > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third
                                                  > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                                                  > will be printed and, down the line, the collectors
                                                  > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to
                                                  > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                                                  > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                                  > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get donated
                                                  > for a tax write-off.)
                                                  >
                                                  > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                                                  > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                                                  >
                                                  > Regards,
                                                  >
                                                  > Paul
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > ----- Original Message -----
                                                  > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                                                  > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
                                                  > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                                                  > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                                                  > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                                                  > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari
                                                  > birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
                                                  > >
                                                  > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's
                                                  > Library
                                                  > >
                                                  >
                                                  http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
                                                  > >
                                                  > Hello,
                                                  > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most
                                                  > of them are pure
                                                  > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                                                  > suku of the first picture.
                                                  > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                                                  > show, or "star wars".
                                                  > Anthropology and education from these !!
                                                  > Yours
                                                  > JP Estrampes
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  >
                                                  > __________ NOD32 2668 (20071119) Information
                                                  > __________
                                                  >
                                                  > This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus
                                                  > system.
                                                  > http://www.eset. com
                                                  >


                                                  More new features than ever. Check out the new AOL Mail!
                                                • ari birnbaum
                                                  Hi Gary, I agree with Holland Cotter [and with you] That african art don t get the respect it Should especially at Universities... I just visit the University
                                                  Message 24 of 26 , Jan 19, 2008
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                                                    Hi Gary,
                                                    I agree with Holland Cotter [and with you]
                                                    That african art don't get the respect it Should especially at Universities...
                                                    I just visit the University i was graduate
                                                    Haifa University in Israel -no interset in African Art but they had courses on Faberge egges and Judaica in 18th Century etc...
                                                    The only disagreement with Mr.Cotter i have is with his opinion about Picasso..
                                                    Today three years after the article was Writen Picasso influence is even more Apparent.
                                                    There are alwayes Art critics that trying To find
                                                    Or write provocative opinions like the one
                                                    Link enclose -but history and time are  the Only final judges.
                                                    I belive that African Art anf Picasso are both great-Forever.
                                                    Regards,
                                                    Ari
                                                     
                                                    ----- Original Message -----
                                                    Sent: Friday, January 18, 2008 10:58 PM
                                                    Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade,' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG.com

                                                    Here is what Holland Cotter wrote in the New York Times two years ago:
                                                    A century from now, art historians will shake their heads in disbelief at what universities were teaching circa 2005. How, they will wonder, could
                                                    scholars have been so obtuse? Entire courses devoted to that froth called French Impressionism; whole seminars to a prolific pasticheur named
                                                    Pablo Picasso, whose chief innovation lay in mining African art for modernist gold. As for the study of African art itself, it was relegated to the margins
                                                    of the discipline.

                                                     


                                                    -----Original Message-----
                                                    From: Mo Okdg <okdg@prodigy. net>
                                                    To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
                                                    Sent: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 6:15 pm
                                                    Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com

                                                    Ladies and gentlemen, I know you'll kill me for saying
                                                    this, but it is important for someone to say it, so
                                                    Anon will say: let no one again call African art
                                                    objects fake. (Lee went so uncharacteristicall y silent
                                                    on the subject). Like Pablo Picasso who benefited
                                                    from their originality, African artists are bound but
                                                    not limited by tradition. Any other way of thinking
                                                    about this issue will only bring frustration, anger
                                                    and disappointment to collectors of African art. But,
                                                    can you say all sorts o things under the cover of
                                                    Anon.

                                                    Anon

                                                    --- ari birnbaum <a312@.... il> wrote:

                                                    > All,
                                                    > I agree with you all...
                                                    > But i think that someone should write all this to
                                                    > UCM's Library...
                                                    > And tell them that not every african collector know
                                                    > what is
                                                    > Authentic ...
                                                    > In the special issue of African Art about Fake and
                                                    > Authenticity i remember that someone wrote :
                                                    > The biggest problem in African Art is that after few
                                                    > month
                                                    > Everyone consider himself as an EXPERT.
                                                    > [something no one will dare in other fields]
                                                    > Regards,
                                                    > Ari
                                                    > ----- Original Message -----
                                                    > From: Paul De Lucco
                                                    > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
                                                    > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 9:38 PM
                                                    > Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                                                    > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                                                    > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    > Greetings:
                                                    >
                                                    > The Hemba So'o mask with its costume, in the glass
                                                    > case, 4th photo down, is also stylistically correct.
                                                    > But, I have to agree with Mr. Estrampes. This
                                                    > collection is made up of very dubious pieces. This
                                                    > goes beyond the realm of our frequent group
                                                    > discussions as to what constitutes "authentic." The
                                                    > first mask in the first photo (a giant beetle?) and
                                                    > the so-called Tshokwe (with heads protruding left
                                                    > and right and a figure crouched on top) in the third
                                                    > photo are pure fantasy. Presumably, a catalogue
                                                    > will be printed and, down the line, the collectors
                                                    > will use the catalogue as proof of authenticity to
                                                    > sell the pieces through Sothebys. (I cannot see
                                                    > that Tshokwe passing even cursory review at
                                                    > Sothebys, though. Maybe it will just get donated
                                                    > for a tax write-off.)
                                                    >
                                                    > I wonder who the curator is because I have a
                                                    > trunkload of stuff I would like to sell him.
                                                    >
                                                    > Regards,
                                                    >
                                                    > Paul
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    > ----- Original Message -----
                                                    > From: jean-pierre estrampes
                                                    > To: African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com
                                                    > Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2008 8:38 PM
                                                    > Subject: [African_Arts] Re: Extensive African
                                                    > art exhibit, 'Masquerade, ' on display at UCM's
                                                    > library until Feb. 28 | digitalBURG. com
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    > --- In African_Arts@ yahoogroups. com, "ari
                                                    > birnbaum" <a312@...> wrote:
                                                    > >
                                                    > > African Art Exhibit,"Masquerade " at UCM's
                                                    > Library
                                                    > >
                                                    >
                                                    http://www.digitalb urg.com/artman/ publish/article_ 3801.shtml
                                                    > >
                                                    > Hello,
                                                    > Surprising exhibit! these masks are fakes, most
                                                    > of them are pure
                                                    > fantasy, only one could be authentic (?) the
                                                    > suku of the first picture.
                                                    > Some look like coming directly from a horror
                                                    > show, or "star wars".
                                                    > Anthropology and education from these !!
                                                    > Yours
                                                    > JP Estrampes
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
                                                    >
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