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Chapter Four On Father’s Side: The Baks

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253014092

3 Reinventing Local Forms: African Fashion, Indigenous Style

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

I was drawn to everything that was African.

—Chris Seydou, Malian fashion designer, Bamako, 6 March 1993

The traditional and the contemporary with a touch of originality. These are the three elements of creativity.

—Salah Barka, Tunisian fashion designer, Paris, 19 June 2010

Sun Goddess harvests stories and images of South African traditions. These stories look back to our heritage and its relevance to the past, present and future.

—Vanya and Thando Mangaliso, South African fashion designers, Sun Goddess website, 1 February 2011

We need to preserve indigenous, traditional techniques by making them modern.

—Aboubakar Fofana, Malian artist and designer, Bamako, 25 June 2009

I want to take from the past and take it with me into the future.

—Laduma Ngxokolo, South African fashion designer, Port Elizabeth, 2 June 2012

In his autobiographical novel L’Enfant Noir (The Dark Child), Guinean writer Camara Laye used clothing to make a powerful statement about the shifting incarnations of tradition. Recalling the rituals by which life was ordered during his childhood, Laye described how people in his community continued to embrace practices that had been detached from the meanings that once inspired them. Now, these practices simply evoke the idea of tradition: “Sometimes only the spirit of a tradition survives; sometimes only its form. Its outer garments, as it were, remain.”1 Clothing here stands in for the residue of tradition, a remnant of practices no longer integral to people’s lives. It may also refer to vaguely remembered histories. Importantly, Laye does not express this shifting meaning as loss, but rather as a source of comfort in the certainty that these rituals (or the garments that are their residue) still have meaning. Writing of a harvest ritual whose origins are lost to memory, Laye notes: “Yet, like all our customs, this one had its significance.”2

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10. Framing Practices: Artists’ Voices and the Power of Self-Representation

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub


“Who is Olu Oguibe?” An artist! is the answer, not an Igbo or Uliist or whatever else. No one asks “who is Jeff Koons?” and David Hockney is not studied as a Cockney artist.


In The Predicament of Culture, James Clifford raised the problem of cross-cultural translations, challenging the notion of ethnographic authority and asking the fundamental question: “Who has the authority to speak for a group's identity or authenticity?”1 This question has great relevance to discussions of museum exhibitions as narratives about cultural production from Africa and to considerations by African artists on and off the continent. Since the mid-1980s there has been a shift in the strategies museums adopt to enhance participation and to ensure that museums remain responsive and relevant to the communities they serve. Of particular interest is the extent to which those who are the focus of an exhibition play a role in their own representation. Increasingly, museum professionals recognize the benefits of exhibition models that rethink the singular, authoritative voice of the museum and embrace the telling of complex, multivocal narratives resonant with the realities of lived experience.

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4. When Stars Collide: Lady Gaga and the Pirating of a Globalized Persona

Noah A. Tsika Indiana University Press ePub


Despite Tonto Dikeh’s boastful claims of complete autonomy, star-making remains a collaborative process. So, of course, do attempts to dramatize individual star personae. In 2011, several of the talents behind the BlackBerry Babes trilogy reunited for a project called Lady Gaga.1 As he had done with film pitches dating back to the days of The Celebrity, Sylvester Obadigie wrote a treatment—a prose story that would serve as the basis of a screenplay; Ubong Bassey Nya, who would eventually pen that screenplay, signed on to direct; and Oge Okoye, who had played Damisa in BlackBerry Babes and Return of BlackBerry Babes, signed on to star. The celebrated trio was back—only this time they were committed to cribbing from the life of Lady Gaga. Knowing that they would need not only trusted colleagues but also the kind whose talents could turn a black Nigerian woman into a walking reference to a white American music star, they enlisted three key people: make-up artist Matthew Alechenu, who had helped Eniola Badmus transform into a glamorous, lipstick-loving city girl in the BlackBerry Babes trilogy; costumier Ogo Okechi, who had designed and supplied that trilogy’s trendy dresses; and Austine Erowele, whose thematically relevant song “BlackBerry Babes” had given the three films a further, jaunty self-reflexivity. Together, these six collaborators would generate a melodrama about the fine line between piracy and fair use—a four-part film about a globalizing media phenomenon that both supports and subverts that phenomenon, in inimitable Nollywood fashion.

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Decker, Juilee; Collections Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub


The Rockefeller Archive Center’s Exhibit Creation Process

Marissa Vassari

Archivist and Educator, Rockefeller Archive Center, 15 Dayton Avenue, Sleepy Hollow, NY; mvassari@rockarch.org

Abstract The Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) in Sleepy Hollow, New York, hosts groups ranging from foundation staff to college-level classes. Over the course of a year, the RAC hosts approximately 30 visiting groups that include from as few as 10 people to as many as 45. The aim is to engage visiting groups with the RAC’s vast collections by creating hands-on, tailored exhibits. The RAC has created policies and procedures, exhibit guides, and workflow templates that allow for documentation of each exhibit and encourage inclusiveness and transparency among staff. Employing a new, standardized approach by using these tools has made all phases of the exhibit process more efficient and allows the RAC to provide a rich, immersive archival experience for visitors. This article offers a case study in standardized exhibit creation that may benefit professionals in other institutions who are seeking to develop work processes and policies without diminishing the visitor experience.

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