At the beginning of the 20th century, artistic avant-gardes allowed themselves to be seduced by the disturbing simplicity of African masks , as old as the world, but new to Europeans, desirous of finding sincere countries without impositions, away from the world wars that threatened then To European continental integrity and, above all, to civil societies. The mask then became a visual icon for the Western world and is present in the works of Picasso , Matisse, Modigliani and Expressionists as Grosz.
The arrival of ritual or popular masks to museums distorted its original function as a totemic and magical piece. The exhibition Disguise: Masks and Global African Art ( Costume: Mask and African global art ) at the Brooklyn Museum (New York, USA) until 18 September, wants to "imagine the future possibilities" and artistic element Folkloric-religious movement proposing 25 young artists, all born in Africa or descendants of parents of the continent, to recover and renew the transgressor power of the mask as an instrument of rebellion.
The exhibition, with photos, paintings, sculptures, videos and installations, presents a fresh vision of the faces present in practically all African cultures and ethnic groups. Racial references, demands on women's rights or the queer option and government corruption are themes inserted by contemporary creators in this twist to a crucial and symbolic element in a continent where 1.1 billion people live in 54 countries , 25 ethnic groups with more than ten million people each and the quadruple, about 200, with less.
Masks have for centuries been "tools" used to "expose hidden problems and challenge the status quo, " explains one of the show's coordinators, Kevin Dumouchelle. "However, once the masks were removed from everyday use and transformed into museum objects, their most direct critical and artistic messages began to be lost in the saturated world of today.The artists of the exhibition present contemporary works, Innovative and provocative that introduce us into a space of deeper perception, "he adds.
With the intention of " inventing the future reinventing the past" , the artists gathered in the collective point to very different objectives: the South African photographer Nandipha Mntambo (1982) transforms Europe into a bull with human traits, and Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou (Benin, 1965) presents a report on the complex ceremonial costumes of the Egungun tribe.
Other proposals are those of the AmericanWilliam Villalongo (1975), who builds collages in which he inserts traditional masks over classic European baroque prints, and Brendan Fernandes (born in Kenya in 1979 and resident in Canada) opted for the proposal of neon masks.
- JoseAngel Gonzalez