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African words

Artists incorporate text with design at Washington museum exhibit

African words and images from the past and the present make a striking artistic statement in a new show at Washington's National Museum of African Art.

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

950 Independence Ave. 

SW Washington

 

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Power of the Written Word Underscores Tradition in African Art

Fathi Hassan Egypt Il passo storico dell'uomo leggero (The Light Man's Historical Footstep), 1985 Photographic still from video installation . 

Collection of the artist,courtesy Sala Uno

 


11 February 2005 By Bruce Greenberg Washington File

TEXTures: Word and Symbol in Contemporary African Art" opened February 11 and runs through September 4, 2005. 

Official site: http://www.nmafa.si.edu/exhibits/textures/ 

Washington --  "TEXTures is a really important show for us," says Museum Director Sharon Patton. "It reflects our commitment to collecting and exhibiting contemporary African art … and is also important as a component of our celebration of the 25th anniversary … of our association with the Smithsonian Institution."

In a February 8 press preview, Patton and her staff conducted reporters on a tour of the works of six African artists arranged in the recently renovated setting of several large galleries of the subterranean museum.

According to the catalog, TEXTures highlights the creative methods in which African artists combine writing and calligraphic designs with photography, murals and freestanding installations. "The artists engage with long-standing art histories in both African and Western cultures … melding the written with the visual," it says.

Dr. David Binkley, an organizer of the display, remarked that "this is the first exhibition to spotlight artists of Africa working in this medium: word and image combined." For these individuals, employing written language with multimedia is a way of confronting their colonial past while also taking note of present-day African culture, he said.

The languages may be literal, but are also employed symbolically, as with Sudanese-born artist Fathi Hassan of Egypt, who adapts a representational form of Arabic, his native language, into photographs and murals, transforming these pseudo-Arabic stylings into forms that lend themselves to the ornamental themes of his works.

South African Willem Boshoff has created "Writing in the Sand," a double lane of sand-on-floor display, separated by a central walkway, and etched with free-associative words designed to represent the ephemeral qualities of native African languages and their oral traditions -- traditions that are fast disappearing as a result of English's dominance in that society.

Berni Searle, also from South Africa, has assembled a collection of her "face photographs," which are translucent and greatly enlarged, and suspended at eye level on invisible wire. The photos depict various forms of scarification, ritualized native designs cut or etched into the skin. Her intent is to evoke the period in history of the African slave trade -- the skin designs meant to symbolize the branding of slaves -- as well as certain tribal practices employing scarification as a form of personal adornment.

There is a display of indigo-dyed silk cloth stamped with Islamic-inspired designs, the work of the Algerian Rachid Koraichi, meant to be evocative of the silk trade that once flourished in North Africa. The designs have been produced from large wooden stamps that come from Koraichi's personal collection, which are included as part of the display.

Perhaps the most controversial work is an installation composed of 57 cartons encased in white zippered canvas, the sides inscribed with sexually explicit passages, stacked like so much inventory in a warehouse, not intended for public view.

Artist Ghada Amer calls her work "Encyclopedia of Pleasure." The texts are derived from an Arabic manual on sexual and spiritual fulfillment, dating from the 11th century A.D.

Amer has said that her intent is to contrast the very liberal attitudes of certain Islamic cultures towards sexuality in ages past with the restrictive controls that are often placed on sexual expression in contemporary Arab societies.

As if to drive home that point, her work stands quarantined in its own alcove, with a sign in front posted by the staff warning patrons of its graphic nature.

"TEXTures: Word and Symbol in Contemporary African Art"
opened February 11 and runs through September 4, 2005.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

lisez aussi (in French): Ecritures Africaines

 

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In this section:
Start
Omhoog
Modern tribal art
African-textiles
Contemporary art
Monaco-Arts-Africa
African-vibes
Africa screams
Africa-remix
Documenta Madrid
African-words
Shona stone family sculpture
hairstyles - Blaffer gallery
Twins-Seven-Seven
Jean Pigozzi
Miami art museum-Mutu
River Crossing
Fiber-Art
airbrush art gallery
contemporary art
Seydou Keyta
Zanzibar artists
modern african art
museum of modern art
Cape Africa
art fairs list
Ifa Lethu
guggenheim bilbao
zimbabwe stone art
South African paintings
code coverage tool c
African American food
expanding Africa
primitivism revisited
Chapunga sculpture park
fire in the heart
tribal tattoos
south africa gallery
african encounters
architecture of the veil
blood art
Shona stone sculptures
Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
south african art
Contemporary art from Africa
jose vermeersch
Is It Art
Ebay African Art 

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The Tribal Arts of Africa

The Tribal Arts of Africa
Author: Jean-Baptiste Bacquart

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read also : Start ] Modern tribal art ] African-textiles ] Contemporary art ] Monaco-Arts-Africa ] African-vibes ] Africa screams ] Africa-remix ] Documenta Madrid ] [ African-words ] Shona stone family sculpture ] hairstyles - Blaffer gallery ] Twins-Seven-Seven ] Jean Pigozzi ] Miami art museum-Mutu ] River Crossing ] Fiber-Art ] airbrush art gallery ] contemporary art ] Seydou Keyta ] Zanzibar artists ] modern african art ] museum of modern art ] Cape Africa ] art fairs list ] Ifa Lethu ] guggenheim bilbao ] zimbabwe stone art ] South African paintings ] code coverage tool c ] African American food ] expanding Africa ] primitivism revisited ] Chapunga sculpture park ] fire in the heart ] tribal tattoos ] south africa gallery ] african encounters ] architecture of the veil ] blood art ] Shona stone sculptures ] Contemporary African Diasporan Arts ] south african art ] Contemporary art from Africa ] jose vermeersch ] Is It Art ] Ebay African Art ]

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