Tuesday 5 June 2012

For African cosmology, ancient and contemporary art meet at Smithsonian museum

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, U.S. takes a cosmic probity into African art and what it describes as “cultural astronomy.”
  It’s an exhibition titled African Cosmos: Stellar Arts, showing at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art from June 20 through Dec. 9.
 Some of the works, according to the museum include ancient Egyptian mummy board ornamented with a representation of Nut, the sky goddess; Dogon (Mali) sculptures and masks that relate to origin myths connecting earth and sky; Yoruba (Nigeria) sculptures honoring Shango, the thunder deity, and his wife, Oya, deity of the whirlwind; Bamana (Mali) antelope crest pieces, whose open-work mane suggests the sun’s path through the sky each day; Tabwa and Luba (Democratic Republic of the Congo) sculptures connected to ideas about the moon, enlightenment, and special insight; A monumental sculpture “Rainbow Serpent” by Benin artist Hazoumè from repurposed plastic containers; a meditative, interactive sculpture “Trembling Field” by South African artist Nel that explores the ephemeral qualities of light as it diminishes into the far reaches of space. 
One of the works for the exhibition
   Other works of contemporary character include “works by internationally recognized contemporary artists who draw on the cosmos for inspiration, including El Anatsui, the late Alexander “Skunder” Boghossian, Willem Boshoff, Garth Erasmus, Romuald Hazoumè, Gavin Jantjes, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, Karel Nel, Marcus Neustetter and Berco Wilsenach.”
 The museum describes the gathering as the first major exhibition exploring the historical legacy of African cultural astronomy and its intersection with traditional and contemporary African arts.
 The Curator is Christine Mullen Kreamer, who is also the deputy director and chief curator at the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian. Her exhibitions and publications explore art, ritual, gender, African systems of knowledge and museum practice. In addition to research in Togo, she has worked on museum training projects in Ghana and Vietnam. She has written articles, essays and books on traditional and contemporary African arts.

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