The Fowler at UCLA
For more than two millennia, ironworking has shaped African cultures in the most fundamental ways. Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths is an international traveling exhibition that combines scholarship with objects of great aesthetic beauty to create the most comprehensive treatment of the blacksmith’s art in Africa. The exhibition will include more than 225 artworks from across the African continent, focusing on the region south of the Sahara and covering a time period spanning early archaeological evidence to the present day. Borrowed from American and European public and private collections, it also features wood sculptures studded with iron, blades, and currencies in a myriad of shapes and sizes, diverse musical instruments, body dornments, an array of ritual accoutrements, tools and weapons, and other important objects that enabled Africans to forage and hunt, till the soil, and assure their own protection and prosperity. Currently presented at the Fowler Museum at UCLA it will travel to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., and the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris. An interview with exhibition curator Tom Joyce is presented elsewhere in this issue, and a feature about the show itself will appear in our winter edition. Also at the Fowler is a show focusing on the Maroon peoples, who hold a special place in the history of Africans and their descendants in the Americas. Their enslaved ancestors escaped the coastal plantations of the Dutch colony of Suriname and established free communities, with whom the colonial authorities eventually negotiated formal peace treaties. The Maroons—or Fiiman (Freemen or Free People), as many prefer to call themselves—have long been renowned for tembe, traditional art forms including architectural designs, vibrantly hued textiles, and intricately carved utilitarian objects such as serving trays, combs, and canoe paddles. Drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, the objects included in Fiiman Tembe: Maroon Arts in Surinam, on display at the Fowler Museum at UCLA until September 9, 2018, exemplify these objects’ eye-catching use of color and geometric pattern.
Paintings from Afar
“Dare to look in order to learn” could have been the subtitle for the Peintures des Lointains (Paintings from Afar) exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, on view on the West Mezzanine until January 6, 2019. Sarah Ligner, who has been head of the Historic and Contemporary Globalization Heritage Unit at the museum since 2015 and is the curator of this show, has chosen to highlight the museum’s collection of paintings for the fi rst time. This installation presents 220 canvases and works on paper drawn from the approximately 500 works that constitute the museum’s holdings in this fi eld. These pieces date from between the end of the eighteenth and the middle of the twentieth centuries and have been little seen, despite the fact that they include works by artists of great renown such as Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Émile Bernard, to name just a few.
Africa. The Religions of Ecstasy
A comprehensive temporary exhibition at the Musée d’Ethnographie in Geneva will examine the many and varied religions, past and present, of the African continent. Beginning on May 18, 2018, "Afrique. Les religions de l’extase" ("Africa. The Religions of Ecstasy") will present nearly 400 pieces, most hitherto unseen, from the MEG’s collection. Ethnographic objects, photographs, filmed interviews, and video installations will be used to illustrate the dynamism of the diversity of the forms of worship in Africa, as well as those in Europe and the Americas where religious practices were disseminated through the diaspora. The Religions of Ecstasy will be an immersive experience in magical and mystical ambience. Here religion hinges on the connections between living and invisible beings. The show’s common thread is religious ecstasy— losing oneself in the quest for communion and connection with the sacred world. The show will be divided into four parts: monotheistic religions, “fundamental” autochthonous African religions, possession cults, and the magico-religious African universes. Contemporary photographs will illustrate the fervor of worshippers during rituals or pilgrimages, and videos will examine and explain their perspectives.
Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher have been capturing striking images of Africa for decades. Their most recent project, African Twilight: Vanishing Rituals & Ceremonies, once again presents the remarkable beauty and magic of traditional cultures on the brink of irreversible change. On July 7, 2018, the Bowers Museum will present the world premiere of a stunning exhibition featuring eighty-five photographs and fifteen films covering the last fifteen years of Beckwith and Fisher’s work in more than forty-five African nations. Their images capture the continent’s vast cultural diversity while documenting profound moments of commonality in the human life cycle, including unique initiation ceremonies, colorful courtship rituals, the splendor of power in royal kingdoms, and intimate healing practices for the living and the dead. African Twilight is organized by Photokunst and will be on view at the Bowers until January 6, 2019, after which it will travel to other venues. A large-format book will be published by Rizzoli in October 2018.
Neanderthal: the exhibit
Neither merely a fossil or wild inferior being, Neanderthal was for a long time an underestimated species by his modern successor: Homo Sapiens, us. In order to help them regain some prestige, the Musée de l’Homme has prepared an exhibition honouring this long-gone species. After treading upon the Earth for more than 350 000 years, Neanderthals could teach us a lot about adapting to change at a time where we have to face major climatic changes ourselves. The exhibition tries to place Homo neandertalensis in his own environment, habitat as well as in his place in the history of Evolution. The museum has produced an educative exhibition that is very attached to virtual mediums and life-size reproductions. However, art does not completely surrender its place to science and the exhibit also shows the cultural side of our ancestors—from sculpting bones or creating jewellery to making stone tools. Finally, the exhibition offers a sociological approach to observe and discover the perceptions we had of Neanderthals for the past centuries. The exhibit will be also presented in Montpellier as well as at the Canadian museum of history, in Gatineau.
Face to Face
A new long-term exhibition opening at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology on March 10, 2018, poses the questions “Why and how do crafting traditions of the world so often incorporate human faces” and “how do people respond to those faces?” "Face to Face: Looking at Objects That Look at You presents answers to these questions formulated through a wide variety of contrasting objects drawn from the museum’s vast holdings. For example, West African helmet masks and Roman sculptures illustrate varying conceptions of the “ideal” face, while Japanese tobacco boxes and ancient Peruvian portrait jars raise the question of what a facial expression can mean. Chinese bamboo figurines paired with Caroline Mytinger’s paintings of Papua New Guineans represent the contrast between portraying faces of one’s own cultural group versus those of another. This timely exhibit, which cultivates critical thinking about crucial issues such as stereotyping, representation and misrepresentation, and snap judgments, was produced by the Hearst staff working with fourteen UC Berkeley students.
"Collecting Stories: Native American Art" explores the range of perspectives, motivations, and voices involved in building the early holdings of Native American art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The exhibition focuses on objects collected in the formative years after 1876—the year the museum opened its doors to the public. Many of these works of art were donated by leaders of the MFA and members of New England intellectual circles who traveled to the Great Plains and Southwest, often inspired by period notions of “authentic” Indian life. Highlights include an early Navajo (Diné) wearing blanket dating from 1840–60, a pair of important Eastern Woodlands moccasins from the early nineteenth century, and a Plains roach, or headpiece, made of deer and porcupine hair around 1880–85. "Collecting Stories" also examines how Euro-Americans encountered and represented Native Americans in the late nineteenth century, illuminating some of the historical and political contexts within which the MFA’s collection developed.
Twenty years after its creation, New Zealand’s Te Papa Tongarewa Museum will inaugurate a major new gallery space called "Toi Art.Turangawaewae: Art and New Zealand" is one of the four inaugural exhibitions that will christen the space. It will bring together nearly 100 pieces drawn from the museum’s collections and dating from the eighteenth century to modern times, augmented with works by other contemporary artists, both Maori and from other parts of the Pacific. The show seeks to address issues of “Who are the New Zealanders, and where do they come from as individuals, as New Zealanders, and as a nation?” It not only questions notions of belonging to this land, but it offers different visions of the ways in which art can help New Zealanders find their place. Turangawaewae identifies the communities, loci, and ideas central to the sense of belonging. Through painting, sculpture, and photography, it explores the questions of art, identity, and intercultural exchange. New Zealand artists represented include Rita Angus, Colin McCahon, Shane Cotton, Gottfried Lindauer, Len Lye, and Robyn Kahukiwa.
Hugo Pratt, skylines
Like his protagonist, Corto Maltese, Italian cartoonist Hugo Pratt was an avid and enthusiastic traveler. His drawings are replete with references to his trips. "Hugo Pratt, lignes d’horizon" explores the places that were dear to him, from the “Great Ocean” to the “Great North” by way of “Amazonia,” the “People of the Sun,” “Africa,” and the “Indians.” The first part of the exhibition features his original drawings, shown in conjunction with the cultural artifacts that enriched his visual universe. The latter are drawn from the museum's collection, augmented by loans from other institutions. The second part is an immersive experience into the artist’s imagination using graphics and sound. Recurring themes in his work, such as trance states and music, shamanism and divination, and signs and symbols, are explored. Another interesting part of this exhibition features two headdresses, one from the Great Plains of the United States and another from Ethiopia, given to the Musée des Confluences by collector Antoine de Galbert. His donation included more than 500 pieces of this kind, complemented by a few full costumes. After being inventoried, studied, and, in some cases, restored, the collection will be the subject of an exhibition in 2019.
Beyond Compare: African Art at the Bode Museum
Beginning on October 27, 2017, the Bode Museum
will present a “conversation between continents”
with an exhibition that features more than seventy African
sculptures from the collection of the Berlin Museum
of Ethnology. Beyond Compare sets up a dialog between
objects from Central and West Africa and masterpieces
from Byzantium, Italy, and central Europe. The exhibition
intends to create new interactions that highlight
unexpected similarities as well as differences between
artworks from unrelated traditions. More than thirty juxtapositions
illustrate major themes in human existence
such as power, death, beauty, memory, aesthetics, and
identity. On view through spring 2019, this show goes
beyond the mere comparison of sculptural traditions to
open interesting new perspectives.
More info here: http://www.tribalartmagazine.com/issue-87-sample-4