Friday, November 4, 2011

Authentic African Art

This week we read three articles that discussed authenticity and truly traditional African art.  After reading these articles we were asked to come up with questions that the articles raised and certain quotes that resonated with us.

As said before, one issue was that of traditional African art.  We have discussed this many times in class because many peoples ideas of traditional are skewed.  For example in our first week of our Arts of Africa class, we first talked about what we thought traditional African art consisted of.  Words such as tribal and primitive, among many other similar words, were common among the students.  We quickly learned that these terms were not correct in identifying traditional African art.

The other issue was that of authenticity.  The question was raised of who gets to decide whether or not something is authentic?  Our class has taught us that there are many different ways one can determine such a question and many people have different views.  For example, many people may think the traditional way of batiking is the only way to make authentic pieces.  But when we had Nani Agbeli visit he showed us a different way of batiking that is used.  The outcomes are different but both are valid processes that are used to get those outcomes.  Another example is some of the traditional African masks and masking we have looked at.  The kinds of masks that many tourists expect to see are the traditional looking masks.  However, in current times, the masks that are made can look very different.  However, both have their specific purposes and uses, making them valid in their different contexts.  This makes both authentic.


  1. I liked how you incorporated the two examples to represent your point with the batiking with Nani and the african masks that were looked at. I also enjoyed the statement of, "who gets to decide whether or not something is authentic?" which is so true. Even though this week was focused on contemporary artists of western culture, there was still a detailed point of authenticism in the blog.

  2. I also liked the statement "who get to decide whether or not something is authentic?" While reading the article by Kasfir many different points were brought up concerning authenticity and traditionalism. I thought the same question who does get to decide? I really do think the context of the items presented plays a big part.

  3. The quote your peers have extracted is indeed useful because ultimately it points to the notion of POWER dynamics. Who creates and shapes knowledge and legitimates information?