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Re: [African_Arts] Part III: Mentoring for the Potentially New African Tribal...

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  • lokaart@aol.com
    In a message dated 06/04/2010 15:12:33 GMT Daylight Time, ann@sidewalkgallery.com.au writes: Of the 800+ African languages there is not one which includes the
    Message 1 of 4 , Apr 6, 2010
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      In a message dated 06/04/2010 15:12:33 GMT Daylight Time, ann@... writes:
       
      "Of the 800+ African languages there is not one which includes the word 'art'."
       
      This is one of the sayings that seems to turn up all over the place. But is it really true? I seem to recall that there is a Fon word (from Benin) for art, alonuzo, which means "something made by hand" and is similar in meaning to the word used by the Ewe of Togo, adanu, which means "accomplishment, skill, value". Taken together, we may suggest that the Fon and the Ewe see art as "something made by the skilled and accomplished (human) hand that is of value". "Value", in this case, presumably does not mean "monetary value", as it might in the West. I also remember a Baule carver admiring the work of other Baule carvers with the words, "I like these...they are beautiful". Would that we could say that about some of today's Western art "masterpieces"!
       
      Mike
    • Ed Jones
      Mike,   Adanu is taken in context with the Anlo-Ewe of a meaning (belief/knowing) god... O Mawuga Sogbolisa, Kitikata adanu wo to amesi wo asi wo
      Message 2 of 4 , Apr 6, 2010
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        Mike,
         
        "Adanu" is taken in context with the Anlo-Ewe of a meaning (belief/knowing) god... ""O Mawuga Sogbolisa, Kitikata adanu wo to amesi wo asi wo afo".   In the 19th century, when the Bremen missionaries arrived West Africa, the word was synonymous with the Great God of hand and foot.
         
        I am no expert, however from this, it is a mistake to assume/presume, suggest or imply that "value" or "beauty" is to be implied in a like or western manner for "art" or artistic appreciation.
         
        Ed


        From: "lokaart@..." <lokaart@...>
        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tue, April 6, 2010 7:56:01 AM
        Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Part III: Mentoring for the Potentially New African Tribal...

         

        In a message dated 06/04/2010 15:12:33 GMT Daylight Time, ann@sidewalkgallery .com.au writes:
         
        "Of the 800+ African languages there is not one which includes the word 'art'."
         
        This is one of the sayings that seems to turn up all over the place. But is it really true? I seem to recall that there is a Fon word (from Benin) for art, alonuzo, which means "something made by hand" and is similar in meaning to the word used by the Ewe of Togo, adanu, which means "accomplishment, skill, value". Taken together, we may suggest that the Fon and the Ewe see art as "something made by the skilled and accomplished (human) hand that is of value". "Value", in this case, presumably does not mean "monetary value", as it might in the West. I also remember a Baule carver admiring the work of other Baule carvers with the words, "I like these...they are beautiful". Would that we could say that about some of today's Western art "masterpieces" !
         
        Mike

         


      • Lee Rubinstein
        Mike: I agree with your refusal to accept the suggestion that there is no word for art among African cultures. Given the diversity of cultures and the
        Message 3 of 4 , Apr 6, 2010
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          Mike:

          I agree with your refusal to accept the suggestion that there is no word for "art" among African cultures.  Given the diversity of cultures and the preponderance of languages -- reflective of multitudinous histories, migrations and societal transformations over the centuries -- it is more likely true (or closer to true) that the understanding of culture-specific aesthetic principles and requirements is limited.  The fact that African "art" is rooted in complex social, religious, philosophical and cosmogonical ideational structures (as is the art arising on any continent) does not preclude the possibility that aesthetic principles are indeed applied in formulating the stylistic expressions that emerge from particular artists and communities.  Otherwise, why would there be observable continuities that allow for attribution of particular works to particular traditions?  It seems to me only logical that the appearance and persistence of so many diverse sculptural traditions and artistic expressions distinct from the representations emerging elsewhere would suggest significant ideas and representations underlying these styles.  Recognizing the presence -- and understanding the nuances -- of aesthetic perceptions and philosophical conceptions (or hearing/listening to their elucidation when offered) is among the emerging opportunities presented by the growth of African scholarship and the inclusion of African voices in the discussion of African material traditions;  additional resources have been generated through the on-going immersion in and interaction with specific communities by Western and other non-indigenous scholars, African and non-African.  Perhaps the most developed instance at this time is the field of study pertaining to Yoruba aesthetics which is continually expanded by both Yoruba and non-Yoruba scholars and the artists themselves.  (See Message 3740.)  In this regard, I think it appropriate at this time to re-visit a message (2869) contributed in 2008 by group member, artist and scholar, Moyo Okediji, author of, for instance, African Renaissance:  Old Forms, New Images in Yoruba Art:

          The African artist is sophisticated. We hardly know
          this because we don't speak his language. If you were
          to listen to Lamidi Fakeye talk about his work in
          English, you probably would not be impressed. If he
          spoke to you in Yoruba, and he begins to invoke
          poetry, metaphors, theories and analogies, in a
          commanding play with words, you will begin to realize
          how sophisticated he is.


          With regard to "mentoring," I would recommend a broader social approach which integrates questioning and information-gathering from a diversity of sources coupled with intellectual curiosity informed by critical thinking and directed toward the development of one's own ability to formulate and re-formulate opinions and ideas regarding the objects of inquiry.  Beginning with one's own initial impulses and impressions, applying such an integrative approach to one's own quest for understanding and appreciation allows one to cultivate the seed of interest and emotion that propels her or him toward objects and the artists by whom they are created.  By nourishing that personal relationship to objects and artists with the variety of ideas that emerge around them (Weed and irrigate, and be selective of your fertilizers!), you will need to define yourself and your priorities as you aim to evaluate the objects of your inquiry and the regard with which you hold the objects' creators and purveyors.  The creation and transit of objects reflects the interests of people and communities, diverse agendas and urgencies; and the objects remain rooted in a social context of which each of us plays an active role.

          Lee


          On Apr 6, 2010, at 10:56 AM, lokaart@... wrote:


          In a message dated 06/04/2010 15:12:33 GMT Daylight Time, ann@sidewalkgallery .com.au writes:
           
          "Of the 800+ African languages there is not one which includes the word 'art'."
           
          This is one of the sayings that seems to turn up all over the place. But is it really true? I seem to recall that there is a Fon word (from Benin) for art, alonuzo,which means "something made by hand" and is similar in meaning to the word used by the Ewe of Togo, adanu, which means "accomplishment, skill, value". Taken together, we may suggest that the Fon and the Ewe see art as "something made by the skilled and accomplished (human) hand that is of value". "Value", in this case, presumably does not mean "monetary value", as it might in the West. I also remember a Baule carver admiring the work of other Baule carvers with the words, "I like these...they are beautiful". Would that we could say that about some of today's Western art "masterpieces" !
           
          Mike


        • lokaart@aol.com
          Hi, I am no expert when it comes to linguistics. I found the reference to the word Adanu in the introduction to A History of Art in Africa by Monica Blackmun
          Message 4 of 4 , Apr 7, 2010
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            Hi,
             
            I am no expert when it comes to linguistics. I found the reference to the word Adanu* in the introduction to A History of Art in Africa by Monica Blackmun Visona, Robin Poyner, Herbert M Cole & Michael D Harris. Thames & Hudson, London, 2001. To my knowledge, these people are experts.
             
            Mike
             
             
             
             *Moderator's note: "...Ewe of Togo use a... term, adanu, (meaning 'accomplishment skill and value') to refer at once to art, handwriting techniques and ornamentation." (p, 22) Lee
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