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African Art and the Complexities of Identity

April 11, 2013

African Art and the Complexities of Identity


April 11, 2013


  1. African  Art  &  the  Complexi3es  of  Iden3ty   Reading  

    Ar+orms,  304-­‐309       Range   77,000  BCE-­‐Present     Terms/Concepts   Primi3vism,  Colonialism,  Post-­‐ Colonialism,  oba,  oni,  iyoba,   Salt  Cellar,  Olyphant,  diaspora   Key  Monuments:     Crowned  Head  of  a  King   (Oni),  Ife,  Yoruba,  12th-­‐15th   Century  CE     Hip  Mask  Represen3ng  an   Iyoba  (“Queen  Mother”),   Benin,  Middle  Period,  c.   1550  CE     Ini3a3on  Wall  Panel,  Nkanu   People,  Democra3c   Republic  of  Congo,  early   20th  c.     El  Anatsui,  Flag  for  a  New   World  Power,  2004.  
  2. Timeline   Pre-­‐Contact      77,000  BCE-­‐1400  CE   • 

    Yoruba  (at  Ife)      350  BCE  –  Present   Contact        1400  CE—1950  CE   •  Kingdom  of  Benin    1440  CE  –  1897  CE   Colonialism        1880  CE  –  1950  CE   •  Nkanu  (Congo)      1602  CE—Present     De-­‐Coloniza3on      1950  CE—1980  CE   Post-­‐Colonial      1980  CE—Present     •  El  Anatsui      b.  1944   •  Julie  Mehretu      b.  1970  
  3. Its  residents  oden  referred  to  Ife  as  the   “Navel

     of  the  World.”   19-­‐6,  Figure  of  the  Oni,  Ita   Yemoo,  Ife,  late  13th-­‐15th   century.  
  4. Symbol  of  the  Inner  Head   (ibori),  western  Yoruba,  c.

      19th-­‐20th  century.   Cache  of  Bronze  Heads  found  under  the  floor  of  the   Wunmonije  Compound,  near  the  palace  of  the  Oni,  1938.  
  5. So-­‐called  “Ori  Olokun,”  likely  a  crowned   head  of  a

     King  (Oni),  Ife,  Yoruba,  early   20th  century  copy  of  14th-­‐15th  Century   original.  
  6. Archaeologist  and  anthropologist  Leo   Frobenius,  c.1910.     So-­‐called

     “Ori  Olokun,”  likely  a  crowned  head   of  a  King  (Oni),  Ife,  Yoruba,  early  20th  century   copy  of  14th-­‐15th  Century  original.    “It  [Ori  Olokun]  is  en3rely  devoid  of  Negro   characteris3cs  and  there  is  no  doubt  that  it   cannot  have  been  made  of  local  cas3ng…[I]   discovered  indisputable  proofs  of  the  existence   of  Plato’s  legendary  Con3nent  of  Atlan3s”  
  7. Crowned  Head  of  a  King   (Oni),  Ife,  Yoruba,  12th-­‐15th

      Century  CE   “May  Obatala  fashion  for   us  a  good  work  of  art.”  
  8. Crowned  Head  of  a  King   (Oni),  Ife,  Yoruba,  12th-­‐15th

      Century  CE   Yoruba  Aesthe3cs:   •  Ifarahon  (visibility)   •  Didon  (luminosity)   •  Gigun  (straight)     •  Odo  (“in  the  prime  of  life”)   •  Tut  (coolness)     •  Didogba  (symmetry)   •  Ogbogba  (balance)   •  Ohun  Eso  (ornamenta3on)   •  Jihora  (likeness)  
  9. Terracoma  Head,  Ife,   Yoruba,  12th-­‐15th  Century   CE  

    Embodiment  in  Portraiture   •  Ashe:  Life  Force   •  Iwa:  Crea3vity   •  Ara:  Evoca3ve  Power  
  10. Terracoma  Head,  Ife,   Yoruba,  12th-­‐15th  Century   CE  

    Scarifica3on  is  s3ll  prac3ced  in  western  Africa   today.  
  11. Bronze  Mask  Head,  Ife,   Yoruba,  12th-­‐15th  Century  CE  

    Masquerader  wearing  beaded  veil  at  a   ceremony  honoring  his  ancestors,  Ijebu,   Nigeria,  1986.  
  12. Coloniza3on  Map   “He  became  a  Chris3an  and  at  

    school  was  my  fellow  scholar  in   learning  to  read  and  write.     When  he  led  he  could  write  very   well,  because  the  Sapes  have  a   talent  and  skill  at  everything   they  learn.”  (Andre  Donelha  on   Beca  Bore,  a  Sapi  royal,  in   1570s).    
  13. The  Danish  naturalist  Ole  Worm's  cabinet  of  curiosi3es,  This  

    is  the  fron3spiece  to  Worm's  1655  Museum  Wormianium.  
  14. Hip  Mask  Represen3ng  an  Iyoba   (“Queen  Mother”),  Benin,  

    Middle  Period,  c.  1550  CE   Woman  with  facial  scarifica3on,  Benin,  2010  
  15. Alterna3ng  Pamern  of  Olokun  and  Portuguese  Merchants,  Hip   Mask

     Represen3ng  an  Iyoba  (“Queen  Mother”),  Benin,   Middle  Period,  c.  1550  CE   Olokun   Olokun   Merchant  
  16. Olokun,  Hip  Mask  Represen3ng  an   Iyoba  (“Queen  Mother”),  Benin,

      Middle  Period,  c.  1550  CE   Bronze  Statue  of  Olokun,    Ebo-­‐ Olokun,  Nigeria,  c.  12th-­‐15th   centuries.  
  17. Members  of  the  Bri3sh  Puni3ve  Raid,  Benin  Palace,   1897.

      Members  of  the  Bri3sh  Puni3ve  Raid  with  spoils,   Benin  Palace,  1897.