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Welcome all! & an introductory link

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  • leerubinstein
    Hello to all of you who have come to join us. If I may, I d like to present to you some introductory thoughts and a link through which to focus our initial
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 1, 2005
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      Hello to all of you who have come to join us. If I may, I'd like to
      present to you some introductory thoughts and a link through which to
      focus our initial discussions.

      In our continual quest to perceive the identities of African objects
      and to attribute to them their -- or our --"values," we must
      travel many terrains. Though we may step eagerly, we must do so at
      times tentatively as we toe mere hints of trails, trails that are not
      necessarily firm nor often traveled except (or even) by those who --
      or whose ancestors -- have historically walked these paths, by foot
      or in mind. Perhaps we need simply to learn to recognize the
      meaningful signs as we gain our footing upon a vast and ever-changing
      landscape – of lives, cultures, arts, histories, perspectives,
      urgencies and agendas.

      Throughout Africa -- and on the grandest of scales -- are the deserts
      where once were -- and under which still lie -- great civilizations,
      now buried beneath the most literal sands of time. Our journeys into
      the arts and cultures of Africa, if amplified, might reveal as
      soundtrack the diminishing sounds of displaced stones trickling down
      the face of eroding plateaus, tracing and displacing the ever
      crumbling terrain whence we might discern the echoes of a mythic
      past. Progressing forward, we may hear faint voices growing ever
      more clear in a symphony of languages – a local language or
      dialect, a regional lingua franca, or tongues more familiar as in the
      observations of an "enlightened" colonial or post-colonial
      interest in Africa and her peoples, arts and cultures. Increasingly -
      - even infinitely, it seems -- I hear questions:

      What is it that we seek to know in determining the identity of an
      object? How do we pinpoint in time and space the identities of
      objects not intended to be viewed in stasis? How do we classify and
      regard works within which are encoded the perceptions and
      relationships of distant realities evolving within their own
      traditions while being transformed de facto and simultaneously by the
      intrusive eye seeking to see and know, even to understand? In light
      of evidence suggesting the parallel production of like pieces in the
      same locales and by the same hands that ultimately serve either a
      ritual or tourist function, who, once removed, can see the difference
      and by what criteria does that seer distinguish authenticity,
      quality, rarity, importance, value, worth? What suppositions (and
      propositions) underlie the perception and assessment of queried
      works? With what certainty are evaluations offered; and once
      offered, to what extent does the defense of that opinion take
      precedence over the openness to differing opinions? How do the
      attached monetary values posited affect further analysis? Do
      investment concerns in a market context displace, disallow subsequent
      objectivity? Was there any real objectivity in the first place? Does
      inclusion within a modern Western history then supercede the
      indigenous history of the object? Who indeed has the right, the
      responsibility, the resources with which to ponder these works and
      any consideration of them? What are the implications of the positions
      we take in relation to these questions?



      To prompt our initial discussions, we offer for your perusal,
      pleasure, enjoyment and consideration a most wonderful round-table
      discussion that took place in New York in 2000 following the
      screening of Susan M. Vogel's short film, Fang: An Epic Journey.

      In the files section of the group site or by visiting
      http://www.frif.com/guide/fang.pdf , you will find a document –
      "Idol Becomes Art: Notes and a Roundtable Discussion Edited by Susan
      M. Vogel," containing both a detailed description of the film and a
      transcript of the discussion which it prompted. Many of you may be
      familiar with some or all of the participants, while others may be
      introduced to them for the first time: it will not likely be your
      last encounter with any of them or with the ideas they consider.

      Drawing upon the rich variety of roles each of them plays and
      insights they bring (as do or may we) – as scholars, appraisers,
      field researchers, curators, dealers, historians, authors, and
      filmmakers (including, of course, Ms. Vogel) -- in the current
      analysis and treatment of tradition-based African works, this
      transcript offers a generous opportunity to partake of a candid
      conversation that both incorporates and transcends the identities and
      experiences of each participant. In their decorum, the participants
      offer a model of both the respectful regard for the objects
      themselves and for other individuals who share in the appreciation
      and contemplation of the African arts. As such, it illuminates the
      necessary task that befalls each of us as we seek to position
      ourselves in relation to the cultural arts of Africa and in the
      community of those who do so alongside them and us. Through its
      insistent focus upon rich content and constructive dialogue --
      despite strong differences in perspective and experience, let this
      discussion inspire further discourse in which we all may reveal the
      insights and revelations we uncover through our encounters with the
      African arts.

      I hope each of you who reads this will be as inspired and excited as
      we were in reading and contemplating this thought-provoking
      discussion. Toward the goal of fulfilling Ms. Vogel's (and
      our) "...hope that this discussion...will help individuals reexamine
      and clarify their own convictions..." we look forward to hearing your
      thoughts and impressions on this discussion -- and many subsequent
      topics as well.

      Let this moment serve both as a point of hopeful departure and as one
      of joyful gathering. In this spirit, we wish you a rewarding journey
      and bid you a warm welcome.


      Sincerely and appreciatively, Lee Rubinstein
    • Rand African Art
      Hi Lee, Thanks for the wonderful welcome to people and for sharing your questions and insights! I wanted to provide some links to everyone for the initial
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 1, 2005
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        Hi Lee,

        Thanks for the wonderful welcome to people and for sharing your questions and insights!

         

        I wanted to provide some links to everyone for the initial discussion material:

         

        The PDF version of the study guide for �FANG: An Epic Journey� and the round table discussion �IDOL BECOMES ART!�, can be found in the files section of the group at the following link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/files/Idol%20Becomes%20Art%21/

         

        You will need adobe Acrobat to open and view the file, and it can be downloaded for free at : http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html

         

        I have also created a web page on my site that contains the study guide in HTML format, and you can print the study guide from the web page.

        To access the web page go to the following link: http://www.randafricanart.com/Fang_an_epic_journey.html

         

        I hope you all will take the time to view or print this document and share your thoughts on it, or share your thoughts on the views and opinions presented by the round table panel. The round table discussion was particularly interesting to me because you have some very well known people in the African art field sitting down openly and candidly discussing the film and many interesting topics about African art that the film presented.

         

        I purchased the film recently and am excited to get it in. I will also share my thoughts on the film itself with the group when I get it in.

         

        Cheers!

        RAND

        www.randafricanart.com

         

        Lee wrote:

        To prompt our initial discussions, we offer for your perusal,

        pleasure, enjoyment and consideration a most wonderful round-table

        discussion that took place in New York in 2000 following the

        screening of Susan M. Vogel's short film, Fang:  An Epic Journey.

         

        In the files section of the group site or by visiting 

        http://www.frif.com/guide/fang.pdf  , you will find a document �

        "Idol Becomes Art:  Notes and a Roundtable Discussion Edited by Susan

        M. Vogel," containing both a detailed description of the film and a

        transcript of the discussion which it prompted.  Many of you may be

        familiar with some or all of the participants, while  others may be

        introduced to them for the first time:  it will not likely be your

        last encounter with any of them or with the ideas they consider. 



        leerubinstein <LRubinstein@...> wrote:

        Hello to all of you who have come to join us.  If I may, I'd like to
        present to you some introductory thoughts and a link through which to
        focus our initial discussions.

        In our continual quest to perceive the identities of African objects
        and to attribute to them their -- or our --"values," we must
        travel many terrains.  Though we may step eagerly, we must do so at
        times tentatively as we toe mere hints of trails, trails that are not
        necessarily firm nor often traveled except (or even) by those who --
        or whose ancestors -- have historically walked these paths, by foot
        or in mind.  Perhaps we need simply to learn to recognize the
        meaningful signs as we gain our footing upon a vast and ever-changing
        landscape � of lives, cultures, arts, histories, perspectives,
        urgencies and agendas.  

        Throughout Africa -- and on the grandest of scales -- are the deserts
        where once were -- and under which still lie -- great civilizations,
        now buried beneath the most literal sands of time. Our journeys into
        the arts and cultures of Africa, if amplified, might reveal as
        soundtrack the diminishing sounds of displaced stones trickling down
        the face of eroding plateaus, tracing and displacing the ever
        crumbling terrain whence we might discern the echoes of a mythic
        past.  Progressing forward, we may hear faint voices growing ever
        more clear in a symphony of languages � a local language or
        dialect, a regional lingua franca, or tongues more familiar as in the
        observations of an "enlightened" colonial or post-colonial
        interest in Africa and her peoples, arts and cultures.  Increasingly -
        - even infinitely, it seems -- I hear questions:

        What is it that we seek to know in determining the identity of an
        object?   How do we pinpoint in time and space the identities of
        objects not intended to be viewed in stasis? How do we classify and
        regard works within which are encoded the perceptions and
        relationships of distant realities evolving within their own
        traditions while being transformed de facto and simultaneously by the
        intrusive eye seeking to see and know, even to understand?  In light
        of evidence suggesting the parallel production of like pieces in the
        same locales and by the same hands that ultimately serve either a
        ritual or tourist function, who, once removed, can see the difference
        and by what criteria does that seer distinguish authenticity,
        quality, rarity, importance, value, worth?  What suppositions (and
        propositions) underlie the perception and assessment of queried
        works?  With what certainty are evaluations offered; and once
        offered, to what extent does the defense of that opinion take
        precedence over the openness to differing opinions?  How do the
        attached monetary values posited affect further analysis?  Do
        investment concerns in a market context displace, disallow subsequent
        objectivity?  Was there any real objectivity in the first place? Does
        inclusion within a modern Western history then supercede the
        indigenous history of the object? Who indeed has the right, the
        responsibility, the resources with which to ponder these works and
        any consideration of them? What are the implications of the positions
        we take in relation to these questions?



        To prompt our initial discussions, we offer for your perusal,
        pleasure, enjoyment and consideration a most wonderful round-table
        discussion that took place in New York in 2000 following the
        screening of Susan M. Vogel's short film, Fang:  An Epic Journey.
         
        In the files section of the group site or by visiting 
        http://www.frif.com/guide/fang.pdf , you will find a document �
        "Idol Becomes Art:  Notes and a Roundtable Discussion Edited by Susan
        M. Vogel," containing both a detailed description of the film and a
        transcript of the discussion which it prompted.  Many of you may be
        familiar with some or all of the participants, while  others may be
        introduced to them for the first time:  it will not likely be your
        last encounter with any of them or with the ideas they consider. 

        Drawing upon the rich variety of roles each of them plays and
        insights they bring (as do or may we) � as scholars, appraisers,
        field researchers, curators, dealers, historians, authors, and
        filmmakers (including, of course, Ms. Vogel) -- in the current
        analysis and treatment of tradition-based African works,  this
        transcript offers a generous opportunity to partake of a candid
        conversation that both incorporates and transcends the identities and
        experiences of each participant.  In their decorum, the participants
        offer a model of both the respectful regard for the objects
        themselves and for other individuals who share in the appreciation
        and contemplation of the African arts.  As such, it illuminates the
        necessary task that befalls each of us as we seek to position
        ourselves in relation to the cultural arts of Africa and in the
        community of those who do so alongside them and us.  Through its
        insistent focus upon rich content and constructive dialogue --
        despite strong differences in perspective and experience, let this
        discussion inspire further discourse in which we all may reveal the
        insights and revelations we uncover through our encounters with the
        African arts. 

        I hope each of you who reads this will be as inspired and excited as
        we were in reading and contemplating this thought-provoking
        discussion.  Toward the goal of fulfilling Ms. Vogel's (and
        our) "...hope that this discussion...will help individuals reexamine
        and clarify their own convictions..." we look forward to hearing your
        thoughts and impressions on this discussion -- and many subsequent
        topics as well. 

        Let this moment serve both as a point of hopeful departure and as one
        of joyful gathering.  In this spirit, we wish you a rewarding journey
        and bid you a warm welcome.


        Sincerely and appreciatively, Lee Rubinstein






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