Materializing the Image, Imaging the Material: African Facemasks in Second Life
Keywords:African, facemasks, image, medium, serial
AbstractIn his expanded sculpture practice, the artist Edwin Bodjawah interfaces accumulative practice, collaborative production and mechanical manufacture. The ensuing sculptural forms are serial facemasks which exist as both multiples and standalone objects. Guided by the axiom ‘the medium is the message and the message is the medium’, the artist images aspects of modern and past life of West Africa with the readymade materials he collects for his work, respectively, decommissioned litho-printing plates and derelict roofing sheets. The readymade images he appropriates (African facemasks) materialize African systems of cultural production which anticipate the expanded field of contemporary art, its democratization of media and its prospects for collective production of art. Masks also connote for the artist, the interdependency of artistic activity, objects and daily life, and the interstitial spaces within modern life in which artists enact their creative visions. The paper argues that the interface between repurposed material and appropriated image presents a congenial site through which the literal African experience in capitalist, colonial and post-colonial systems can be resurrected, re-presented and re-engaged.
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