206 Chapters
  Title Author Publisher Format Buy Remix
Medium 9780253007414

13. Work and Workshop: The Iteration of Style and Genre in Two Workshop Settings, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Till Förster

Workshops offer a unique occasion to observe and document how cultural knowledge on art is reproduced. They bring masters and apprentices, teachers and pupils, and also artists of the same status together—and, thus, provide opportunities to learn from each other, to develop a shared style, or to distinguish the members as a group from other artists. Even within one society, workshops as a setting of learning and exchange often differ significantly and lead, through their different organization and the modes of communication that this organization fosters, to more or less homogeneity in the artistic expression of the member artists. By the same means, workshops may become visible as groups or as individual artists, as many examples from Western as well as non-Western art history show. The many varieties of workshops thus call for a comparative analysis of how the particular organization of a workshop affects the modes of cooperation and communication among its members and how this translates into particular modes of art production as they become visible in a recognizable style and genre. The questions that arise from this short reflection on the significance of workshops for the understanding of the production of art are, however, an empirical challenge. One must first broaden the understanding of terms as cooperation and communication because of the specificities of art and handwork. What happens in a workshop may be easy to observe but it is usually not part of propositional knowledge—that is, artists very often will not want to explain or put in words what they are doing and how they actually cooperate and learn from each other. Any analysis of work in a workshop thus needs a thorough methodological toolkit to describe and conceptualize how artists work, how they cooperate, how they learn their skills and how they develop a nonverbal understanding of what they do. Such a focus is best developed through a study of different workshops, as I will try to show in this article by comparing sculptors’ workshops of the rural Senufo in northern Côte d’Ivoire with painters’ workshops in urban Bamenda, Cameroon.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253013873

7 Zombie Performance

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Come and get it! It’s a running buffet! All you can eat!

Shaun, Shaun of the Dead

The zombie consumes us. It occupies our minds, books, screens, and streets; devours and squanders our flesh and bodies; infects us with disease; and overwhelms our very social order. And yet we chase after zombies. In recent years we have facilitated their rise as a veritable cultural phenomenon, compelling them into our movie-theater screens in greater and faster-moving hordes than ever before, into our homes with shows like The Walking Dead, and onto our college campuses with Humans vs. Zombies, a live-action game of survival. Even the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have launched a zombie preparedness campaign, encouraging people to equip themselves against a whole range of catastrophes. The zombie apocalypse, it appears, offers itself as a natural disaster par excellence.

But we humans do not simply want to destroy and survive the zombies; we actually want to be them. In walks and runs across the country, people regularly adorn themselves in fake blood, gaping wounds, and tattered clothing to perform zombie “undeath” in our very streets. The zombie survival guides in our bookstores now find themselves in the company of titles such as So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead (Austin); Zombies for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead (Murphy); and How to Speak Zombie: A Guide for the Living (Mockus and Millard). For every piece of information on how to combat zombies, there is now parallel advice on how to enact zombie existence.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781603444668

5. Living Downstream: East Austin through the Blackland Prairies

Margie Crisp Texas A&M University Press ePub

EAST AUSTIN THROUGH THE BLACKLAND PRAIRIES

The river pours out of Longhorn Dam and starts a series of lazy, looping curves on its way to the coast. It changes in temperament and character. The way people look at it alters; there can be no mistaking that it is a river again, in name and nature. Just downstream from the last dam (for the present), the river glides underneath the soaring buttresses and pillars of the Montopolis Bridges. The river feels like an anachronism after the high-priced estates and manicured lawns bordering the reservoirs upstream. City of Austin parks bordering the river on either side (Guerro Park on the south and the Colorado River Preserve on the north) are not akin to the mowed and maintained hike and bike trails just upstream around Lady Bird Lake. Erosion eats at the banks of Guerro Park. In the Colorado River Preserve, eroded trails score the woods, heaps of dumped household and construction trash clog the gullies, and debris washed downstream laces the brush.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253349118

12. Mukta Tripathi

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

THOUGH MARRIED WOMEN in India are expected to be ornamented, some prefer to pay little attention to adornment and wear the minimum of jewelry, like Nina Khanchandani. Others, like Neelam Chaturvedi, indulge their affection for one kind of adornment—in her case, the sari—and downplay the others. Mukta Tripathi, a woman in her mid-forties and a mother of two, is, by contrast, passionate about all kinds of adornment.

I was directed to Mukta precisely because she is known to have a grand sense of personal style. Our conversations were lively and easy, because Mukta has carefully considered the variables that most people intuit but few can articulate.1 Mukta spoke energetically, interrupting herself to illustrate her points. She succinctly verbalized the aesthetic choices women make daily, actively enriching their lives with creativity.

Mukta began her treatment of the levels of visual decision by focusing on the beauty of the actual piece of adornment. The item of jewelry or clothing, she said, must be good-looking. She likes to change her jewelry often, and, like most married women in Banaras, she buys new glass bangles regularly. But unlike others, Mukta also changes her nath (nose ring), bichiya (toe rings), and payal (anklets) with frequency; she finds it fun to vary her “compulsory” jewelry.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253013064

3 • Mapping Drigung Activity at Nako and in the Western Himalaya

Melissa R. Kerin Indiana University Press ePub

The task of tracing Nako’s ’Bri gung (Drigung) religious history has been a challenging one in large part because there is no documented religious history for Nako and no known inscriptions that provide substantive political and religious information. Given the paucity of such textual and inscriptional information at Nako, the artistic remains become that much more crucial in piecing together Nako’s devotional history. Although research on Nako’s early painting programs of circa twelfth century have been studied and published, the material of the late medieval period has been neglected. This body of work, and in particular the Gyapagpa sixteenth-century painting program, is of crucial significance in piecing together what has otherwise remained an opaque religious history for Nako and the surrounding region of Kinnaur.

As the last chapter established, the murals at Nako’s Gyapagpa Temple unequivocally align the temple with the Drigung community of the larger Bka’ brgyud (Kagyu) tradition. One of the most revealing pieces of information from this temple’s iconographic program was the six-person lineage painted on three of its four walls. While this has been useful in establishing the temple’s sixteenth-century religious affiliation, many other questions linger. For instance, who are these lineage members and what lineage, exactly, is being referenced? A survey of various texts listing Drigung abbot lineages has not yielded correspondences with the particular combination of names, or partial names, depicted in Gyapagpa Temple.1 Furthermore, I have consulted several scholars of West Tibetan and Drigung history from India and Tibet, but none has been able to identify the lineage depicted.2 The inability to identify this six-member group as part of an established and recognized Drigung lineage raises the possibility that Nako’s grouping represents a lesser known and little documented—Drigung lineage, specific to this area of Kinnaur. That there are no other temples in the region with Drigung iconography makes it impossible to verify that what we see at Nako is, in fact, a local lineage.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253015976

3 Provocations: African Societies and Theories of Creativity

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Moradewun Adejunmobi

MY OBJECTIVE IN this essay is to argue that cultural studies scholars who focus on Africa should give at least some of their attention to producing scholarship that also provides a wide-ranging justification for humanities research as occasion demands, and that deciders and the society at large must understand that the value of humanities scholarship can never be taken for granted anywhere in the world. What is more, the need to address why humanities scholarship matters becomes all the more urgent in times of economic and political uncertainty when the temptation is highest to curtail, underfund, and if possible eliminate institutions dedicated to humanities scholarship. I shall make the argument for attending to such justifications by way of a commentary on current trends in studies of African cultural production.1

In 2012, the Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina took advantage of an address to the African Studies Association of the United Kingdom to counter Taiye Selasi’s celebration of the “Afropolitan.”2 As far as reactions to Selasi’s declaration go, Wainaina’s riposte did not represent an isolated incident. Selasi’s 2005 manifesto “went viral” in its initial instantiation in an online magazine and generated considerable commentary in blogs dedicated to discussion of African culture and identity. Similar controversies trail the multiple national affiliations attributed to authors like Teju Cole and Dinaw Mengestu, among others, and the claims to African identity made for Tope Folarin, winner of the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing.3 Discussions of this question in print and online indicate a return to prominence of a certain kind of debate among both writers and critics about the identity and location of the African writer. While such debates about identity will always be topical for African literature, given the current and historical location of many “African” writers outside Africa, I will argue that the main shortcoming of the critical approaches often used today for analyzing African cultural production is not a failure to ask what exactly constitutes “African” as opposed to, say, “Asian” or “Western” cultural production. More important, the critical approaches that we have embraced do not fully account for the relevance of our scholarship on expressive and representational practices to broader trends within African societies at this point in time. They fail to ask what else and what more artistic activity signifies when it occurs under the particular conditions that typify contemporary Africa, and why imaginative activity matters for societies facing apparently more pressing challenges, other than as a form of social commentary that we as scholars are called upon to elucidate.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253348920

2. Idoma Warriorhood and the Pax Britannica

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub

2

IDOMA WARRIORHOOD AND THE PAX BRITANNICA

Ichahoho olébè òche (Ichahoho eats [the meat of] human beings)!

—War cry formerly sung by the Ichahoho mask, Ekpari clan, Akpa District

By contrast with that of the East African pastoralists, Idoma warriorhood in central Nigeria was inscribed within a much more widespread and formulaic colonizing discourse: barbarism that had to be eradicated in order to bring civilization in Africa. David Livingstone, the nineteenth century’s most popular explorer-missionary, summed up the more benign representation of this civilizing mission: “We come upon them as members of a superior race and servants of a God that desires to elevate the more degraded portions of the human family” (Jeal 1973, 382).1 Frederick Lugard, the great architect of British colonial policy, justified colonization much more graphically fifty years later:

The South [in Nigeria] was, for the most part, held in thrall by Fetish worship and the hideous ordeals of witchcraft, human sacrifice, and twin murder. The great Ibo race to the East of the Niger … and their cognate tribes [e.g., Idoma] had not developed beyond the stage of primitive savagery. In the West, the Kingdom of Benin—like its counterpart in Dahomey—had up to 1897 groaned under a despotism which revelled in holocausts of human victims for its Fetish rites. (Lugard 1919/1968, 56)

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253353801

6 The Big Lebowski and Paul de Man: Historicizing Irony and Ironizing Historicism

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Joshua Kates

Let me begin by historicizing, not irony, but the Dude, though these two options may turn out to be closer than one suspects. The link between the Dude, the hero of the Coen brothers’ 1998 film The Big Lebowski, and the era of the 1960s has seemed to many incontestable. I propose, however, not the 1960s themselves, but a certain reception and interpretation of this era in the 1970s as Jeff’s actual socio-cultural reference point.

Indeed, at issue in the character and way of life of Jeff—as his homonym, the Big Lebowski, points out—is the fate of the already failed revolutionary hopes of the 1960s, as these have been taken up and “processed” by the 1970s. Jeff as we are shown him, in fact, has no living contact with that earlier era. The Dude cannot even be imagined actually doing any of the earlier deeds attributed to him, or to his supposed archetype Jeff “the Dude” Dowd: taking over campus buildings, writing the Port Huron Statement, etc. So, too, from the beginning of Lebowski, Lebowski little and big are distinguished along the axis of activity and quiescence, laziness and achievement (suited to the reference of the 1970s), not in terms of politics or political commitment (as would befit the 1960s). Big Lebowski is credited with being an achiever at least five times after the film’s opening, and even the doting cowboy narrator calls the Dude the laziest man in L.A. (Of course, by the end of the film, the attribute of achievement having been stripped from the putatively “larger” Lebowski, and Jeff having fathered a still smaller Lebowski, it is not clear who really is the big Lebowski: perhaps the larger-than-life, and about to become large with child, Maude Lebowski?)

See All Chapters
Medium 9781574412208

CHAPTER SIX: Mature Years, 1984–2001

Olive Jensen Theisen University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9780253348920

7. Idoma Sculpture: Colonialism and the Market for African Art

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub

7

IDOMA SCULPTURE: COLONIALISM AND THE MARKET FOR AFRICAN ART

The next two chapters describe the bridging from the colonial to the postcolonial phase in the trajectories of certain objects as they became collectible commodities. But first I clarify what I mean here by “the postcolonial” as a historical phase versus an experiential condition, how clearly it can be distinguished from the late colonial, and whether this is even a right way to characterize the changes I am describing in the African art world. There is a qualitative difference between using “postcolonial” as a temporal marker meaning “after formal colonialism ended” and using “postcolonial” as an intellectual construct involving a broad new kind of consciousness, a stepping away from one’s old identity as colonial subject and adoption of a critical stance toward the colonial experience. Today this second sense of postcoloniality is fading into abstraction as the colonial experience has become less personal and more remote in time and is morphing, often due to migration (Papastergiadis 2000), into the African artist’s experience of an expanded horizon in a global cultural field (Liep 2001, 46). For the Samburu pastoralists, these migrations are a new form of seasonal transhumance without cattle and, like the experiences of more urban Africans, they involve encounters with strangers and their ideas. But Idoma artisanal practice has remained largely local and rural so that the second sense of the postcolonial as a form of changed subjectivity is a mantle to be worn lightly, if at all.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253015976

10 Island Geography as Creole Biography: Shenaz Patel’s Mauritian Literary Production

Edited by Frieda Ekotto and Kenneth W H Indiana University Press ePub

Magali Compan

MANY CRITICS HAVE examined the production of francophone-African artists relocated to France by focusing on the condition of exile and its potential for creative friction. Since the 1930s and through today, numerous francophone authors have found in France favorable conditions for literary creation. Critics have reinforced an understanding of the impetus for exile as coming from a lack of opportunities and resources for those who would choose to remain and write in their country or homeland. Kate Quinn, for example, invokes the expression of Jamaican writer Andrew Salkey, “Emigrate or vegetate,” as an adage for the cultural impoverishment that writers in the Caribbean face if they do not leave.

This imperative for emigration has driven francophone writers from Africa and the Indian Ocean for generations, and, as a result, ostensibly “African” francophone literary works are, by and large, produced and consumed outside the places they seek to represent. But what about the writers who decide to stay? How does a “home” geography or place affect an author’s writing and authorship? What are the relationships among location, a sense of place, and one’s identity formation, not only as a writer but as an individual or a member of a community? What influence, if any, does place exert on one’s identity? How do sites of production and histories together generate authorship and identity, francophone or otherwise? The case of Shenaz Patel, one of a contemporary group of successful female writers from Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean, offers revealing answers to these questions. Unlike her Mauritian literary contemporaries (including Ananda Devi, Nathacha Appanah, and Marie-Therese Humbert, all of whom live in France), Patel has maintained residence in and pursued her literary career from her native island. While writing for the global francophone literary marketplace, Patel also remains committed to other endeavors that tie her to Mauritius, her local community, and her extended family. She is not only an internationally recognized francophone author but also a local journalist, having written for (and served as the managing editor of) the independent political Mauritian newspaper Le Nouveau Militant and the main newspaper on the island, Week End. Committed to a project of “re-transcribing Creole culture” (retranscrire la culture creole), as she puts it, Patel also translates French-language popular cultural texts into Creole for local readerships (including, for example, the Tintin comic books). She also writes stories in Creole for local publication and has written theater plays for local production. As a librarian, she maintains writing projects linked to local Creole community activism and cultural engagement. Thus the crossing of French and Mauritian Creole in her francophone literary production emanates from her diversified set of local, Creole cultural commitments and projects. As such, her literary work contributes to a suite of endeavors that together constitute the “place” of Patel’s francophone writing of and from the island of Mauritius.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253007414

11. Frank McEwen and Joram Mariga: Patron and Artist in the Rhodesian Workshop School Setting, Zimbabwe

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Elizabeth Morton

The Rhodesian Workshop School, in existence from the late 1950s until 1973, is one of the best-known African workshops. Its key patron, the British-born aesthete Frank McEwen, is a prominent figure in African art history who has been credited with spurring the growth of stone sculpture in Zimbabwe. With a host of talented artists—such as Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Joseph Ndandarika, Sylvester Mubayi, Henry Munyaradzi, and Joram Mariga—McEwen was able to mount successful international exhibitions in Paris, London, New York, and elsewhere. McEwen’s departure from Rhodesia in 1973 (combined with the war of independence in the 1970s) left stone sculpture moribund for some years, nevertheless the workshop artists and their successors regained their momentum in the 1980s and 1990s. For the last twenty years Zimbabwean sculptors have ranked among the finest in the world.

Although there is a considerable body of work dealing with McEwen and his workshop, most notably Ben Joosten’s recent monograph (2001), surprisingly little has been written about the dynamics of the Rhodesian Workshop School. In fact, most of the scholars investigating the material have relied heavily on McEwen’s own descriptions and have not looked beneath the surface to examine the relationships among McEwen and his artists. The result is that they have depended on his chronology as well as his version of events, both of which are not entirely accurate in many cases. An often tense dialectic ran through the workshop. On the one hand there were McEwen’s expectations of what kind of people his artists should be and how they should carve. From the artists’ perspective, the problem was how to obtain McEwen’s support even if they did not fit into his preferred profile.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253013873

10 Zombie Postfeminism

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

The corpse is death infecting life.

Julia Kristeva

While Julia Kristeva doubtless did not have in mind the undead corpse of the zombie when she wrote of the abject and how it forces death upon the living, the walking dead undeniably embody abjection. It is not strange, then, that in representations of zombies, in film, literature, television, or other media, the primary focus is on how the humans who have not been infected confront and battle those who have returned from the dead. Those who engage in zombie fighting are necessarily confronting and denying the death (among other things) that the posthuman monster represents. This analysis of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) looks at how the heroine of his contemporary novel is rewritten to be physically strong, capable of independence, and yet still chained to the necessity of finding the ideal mate that is the touchstone of the original Jane Austen text. The pervasiveness of postfeminism is apparent in the book as Elizabeth Bennet fights off the monsters even while the ideal end for her is to marry well.1 Her education and the fact that she is one of the best in her field are subsumed under the ability to use these skills to secure a man. In fact, it is her very prowess in fighting the zombie offensive, her abilities with a sword, and her capacity for killing that win her the esteem of those around her and garner her the greatest prize of all: Mr. Darcy, a rich and handsome (and equally well-trained) husband. Despite the fact that her militarized body and violence are constructed as being first and foremost for the defense of herself and her loved ones, her finely tuned body is heteronormatively attractive, though this is presented as an added bonus, the result of so much training for the defense of others and not the primary motive for her training. Her body is of primary concern, especially because it is one of the principal tools in the fight against the zombie hordes. It contrasts starkly with the zombie body: where one is contained, in control, and integral, the other is messy, falling apart, and contagious. Arguably, though, the difference between the body of the zombie and that of the zombie slayer hides a more chilling similarity: that both raise the heteronormative necessity of eliminating the other.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253011596

2: Munich Drawing School December 1881–Fall 1883

Rachel Berenson Perry Indiana University Press ePub

December 1881–Fall 1883

Author's note: During his years in Germany, William Forsyth wrote many letters to his patron, Tom Hibben, and to his family. Quotes from Forsyth's handwritten letters use his wording, but I've taken the liberty of altering his punctuation to improve clarity.

WITH STEELE'S ADVICE ABOUT EVERYTHING FROM budgets to the best travel routes, William Forsyth prepared to make his ocean voyage at the end of 1881. But because he could not help but worry about nearly everything, it could not have been reassuring for him to hear from Steele the previous April that “the school has never been so full as now and there is difficulty in getting in after the session has commenced. There have been several Englishmen here for several months waiting for a place to be vacant.” Other Academy news about the difficulty of getting into the painting classes followed: “This is Friday and has been an anxious day to many of the students who have made application to pass to higher classes. A great many have applications and the Secretary's room was crowded with their drawings. Today these are being examined by the Professors. The upper classes are so full that perhaps half of those applying from the Antique [drawing class] will be compelled to stay there. The probability is that they can do so to advantage for there are a great many dummies in [this] school as well as men of artistic talent.”1

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253007414

4. An Artist’s Notes on the Triangle Workshops, Zambia and South Africa

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Namubiru Rose Kirumira and Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

African contemporary artists are often portrayed as individuals who are caught up in the dynamics of art formation spaces, sociocultural movements, and forces of globalization—as well as new discourses of artistic experience. Workshops in particular have been significant formative spaces in artists’ endeavors to become versatile in a globalizing environment (Deliss 1995; Kirumira 2008; Sanyal 2002). It is worth observing that several types of workshops that include long-term (three-month) residencies, short-term (two-week) workshops, and symposia have existed in Africa for some time; many were begun by colonial patrons. Publications such as catalogs produced by the Triangle Art Trust, and articles by Court (1992) and Richards (1998) have given varied, if limited, accounts of the status of art workshops in Africa.

Murray, Picton, and Loder (2005) argue that the condition of being an artist in Africa is a condition of continuous transition. In the same vein, for over fifty years, African workshops have presented themselves in a continuous transition from artist’s colonies, communities, and craft villages to international workshops. A revealing example of what has changed in the African workshop scenario since 1985 is the introduction and spread of the so-called Triangle Workshops, originated by the British art collector and entrepreneur Robert Loder and sculptor Sir Anthony Caro in 1982. The initial triangle was the familiar one of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom; but three years later the first African Triangle Workshop, Thupelo, was organized in South Africa by artists David Koloane and Bill Ainslie.

See All Chapters

Load more