All the books reviews
Afrique des textiles - (FRENCH)
Ten years of research and over three years of in situ study in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire have been devoted by anthropologist author Anne Grosfilley to put together this book on the textile traditions of the African continent. In it, she tells the story of these textiles and describes the skills of the craftsmen who make them. Far from being a nostalgic view of traditions bound for extinction, the book gives perspective to an art form with an identity that is perpetually being redefined. Interspersed as it is with interviews with weavers, merchants, and artists, it does not stop at telling the story of the textiles alone but tells that of the people who create, wear, and market them as well. The book illustrates how the diversity of African peoples is expressed by the manufacture and business of textiles, and by the manner in which they wear them. The beautiful illustrations add to the book’s impact.
Along the Rivers of Central Kalimantan: Cultural Heritage of the Ngajn and Ot Danuin Davak - (ENGLISH)
As a protestant missionary doctor employed by the Indonesian government in Central Kalimantan in the early 1950s, Dr. Arnoud H. Klokke traveled far up the great rivers, visiting the villages of the Ngaju and Ot Danum peoples. This new book presents a selection of the fascinating photographs he took to document the cultural heritage of these Dayak groups. This extensive portfolio groups the pictures by village in the same order that Dr. Klokke saw them as he moved upstream from the lower reaches of the rivers to their headwaters. In the course of his journeys, he saw many expressions of material culture that derived from the original religion and traditions of the Dayak. Many of his photographs show expressive wooden sculptures (hampatong), finely decorated bone repositories (sandong), memorial poles (pantar), and symbolic cosmological objects (sanggaran), all of which play important roles in funerary rituals. Dr. Klokke collected dozens of objects in situ that he sold or donated to the Volkenkunde Museum accompanied by his detailed documentation.
An African Journey through its Art - (ENGLISH)
Through this book, Lifshitz takes the reader on a journey through the entire African continent, visiting major cities, regions, and tribes, and giving brief overviews regarding their histories, cultures, and arts. The many illustrations offer glimpses into typical art forms of the different areas, as well as providing the reader with maps to get a better understanding of the various locations and their proximity to one another within the specific countries. It is an easy read and is of great value for those who are just starting to explore this momentous continent and its art.
Ancestors and Rituals - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
This is the catalog that accompanies the exhibition of the same name organized for the Europalia Indonesia festival at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. It presents a general introduction to the history of Indonesian art followed by discussions of the principal themes that defi ne it, including status, fertility, protection, death rituals, and the role of ancestors in the Indonesia of today. In addition to the exhibition curator, Daud Tanudirjo, numerous contributors, including Peter ter Keurs, Nico de Jonge, Heddy Shri Ahimsa Putra, and Abdul Munir Mulkhan, present essays here. These are complemented by hundreds of seldom-seen masterpieces of Indonesian art on loan from the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta, which have never before been exhibited outside Indonesia. These objects, all specially photographed and mostly illustrated on full pages, are accompanied by detailed descriptions, making this book a valuable resource and reference for a wide array of Indonesian art forms, ranging from sculptures and textiles to jewelry and prestige items.
Ancestors of Congo Square: African Art in the New Orleans Museum of Art - (ENGLISH)
Ancestors of Congo Square is a beautiful catalogue published in conjunction with a recent exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art, in which the objects were drawn from its own extensive collection of subsaharan African art. With approximately fifty contributors, all leading experts in their fields, this dense and beautiful volume offers a comprehensive view of African art and culture. Through a brief introduction discussing the relationship between New Orleans and African regions, the main part of Ancestors consists of a fully illustrated catalog divided into five areas: Western Sudan, the Guinea Coast, the Equatorial Forest, the Southern Savannah, and East Africa. Each image is accompanied by text detailing the piece, its provenance, and its significance with its respective culture. The objects are both religious and utilitarian, and together they reveal the elegance and intricacy of a major museum collection that until now has not been well known or well documented.
Ancient Marks: The Sacred Origins of Tattoos and Body Markings - (ENGLISH)
Photo journalist and documentary photographer Chris Rainier is noted for his work that has appeared in National Geographic, Time, Life, and the New York Times, as well as for two books of his photographs of Native peoples that were published in the mid nineties, Keepers of the Spirit and Where Masks Still Dance: New Guinea. The present work is similar in format and feel to the latter publication (and indeed shares a few images), in that it is a large and lavishly produced book of Rainier’s photography. This one, however, moves beyond a specific population and visually investigates the phenomenon of tattooing, scarification, and to a certain extent, masking around the world. It takes us from scarification in West Africa to applied henna patterns in the Middle East to tattooing from Borneo to the Pacific Islands to the barrios, prisons, and “modern primitives” of California, interspersed with sweeping gatefold images of deserts, ruined temples, and African savannahs. The images are staged yet haunting and show a consistency in the photographer’s eye in wildly divergent circumstances, but ultimately it is up to the viewer to decide what relevance these varied images have to one another.
Ancient Peru Unearthed - (ENGLISH)
Ancient Peru Unearthed accompanies an eponymous exhibition (presently touring Canada [see TRIBAL XI:3]) that reveals the ancient culture of the Sicán (northeastern Peru, AD 800–1375). Through this catalogue, readers come to know a culture that has long lain forgotten, in large part due to the looting of its tombs. When an archaeological project under the direction of Dr. Izumi Shimada found an unloosed Sicán tomb in the 1991, a new understanding of this culture became possible. In this work, essays by several authors discuss the history of the natural and cultural environment of Sicán, as well as their artistic significance, with regard to both metallurgy and pottery. The initial essay impresses the importance of proper archaeological excavation of tombs in order to understand the past and its cultures, since most of such knowledge relating to this culture was lost to extensive looting, particularly in the 1930s. The book also provides detailed information on the history, culture, and legends of Peru and the Sicán region in particular. It concludes with details of Shimada’s excavation project. This catalogue is beautifully illustrated with detailed images of the findings in the East Tomb of the Sicán Deity, along with illustrations from its excavation, making Ancient Peru Unearthed a fine document about this ancient culture.
Andes précolombiennes - (FRENCH)
C’est une de ces synthèses aux vertus pédagogiques comme les prisent de plus en plus les éditeurs. S’adressant à un vaste public, elles permettent néanmoins de faire le point sur les dernières recherches des archéologues ou anthropologues, telle cette spécialiste de l’architecture cérémonielle des Andes qu’est la suisso-italienne Adine Gavazzi. On apprend ainsi que l’histoire des grandes civilisations andines est intimement liée à leur environnement naturel. Montagnes, lacs et rivières étaient en effet considérés, chez ces peuples, comme des êtres vivants avec lesquels il était impératif de composer. Chaque cité, chaque monument, chaque huaca (lieu saint) entretenait un dialogue intime avec la flore et la faune environnantes, composant un grand livre « écologique » que les archéologues commencent tout juste à déchiffrer... Seul bémol de l’ouvrage, les photos de Beatrice Velarde (qui fut reporter pour la télévision et journaliste) sacrifient à une esthétique clinquante de magazine, en discordance totale avec le propos scientifique.
Andolo - (FRENCH)
This book is both a cultural study and a history of the funerary sculpture of the Sakalava, who inhabited the west coast of Madagascar from the seventeenth through the nineteenth century. Research by anthropologists Sophie Goedefroit and Jacques Lombard forms the foundation for this book, which discusses the evolutionary path of the art in the funerary necropolis of Andolo. Sakalava funerary art is based on wooden tombs, and this book’s detailed and well-illustrated analyses show how, beginning with a very simple tomb model, the works grew more elaborate, often coming to be decorated with erotic statuary, which served as symbols of procreation and of life. Often consisting of couples and occasionally of several figures, this statuary is well known to connoisseurs of African art but documentation on it has been scarce. The present work is thorough, fascinating, and abundantly illustrated, and goes far to remedy that situation. This is a fine new reference tool.
André Breton Malgre Tout - L'oeil à l'état Sauvage, L'Atelier d'André Breton - (FRENCH)
This DVD is intended for Surrealism enthusiasts and for those curious to learn more about the artistic development of the twentieth century. It presents the story of the intelligent chaos of the atelier at 42 Rue Fontaine and is the only film documentation of this near-mythical place. "Andre Breton Malgre Tout" is a biographical essay on Breton, inseparably linked to the trajectory of the movement he created. It was written by Jean-Michel Goutier and Fabrice Maze. On March 31, 2003, the Hotel Drouot held a sale that transformed the auction venue into a "Palace of Surrealism" for seventeen days and created great excitement among all who attended. Produced in the style of an extended exploratory voyage, this film retraces the last moments before the dispersal of the Breton Collection. It takes the viewer from room to room to view the amazing jungle of objects and legendary works in the atelier. The unique atmosphere of the place is captured through the presentation of the works and objects that define the history of Surrealism.