Tags for: Peering Beyond the Frame: A Refreshed Look at Arts of Senufo-Speaking Communities
  • Lecture

Mother-and-Child Figure (detail), 1800s-1900s. Africa, Guinea Coast, Ivory Coast, Senufo people. Wood; h: 63.6 cm. James Albert and Mary Gardiner Ford Memorial Fund 1961.198

Peering Beyond the Frame: A Refreshed Look at Arts of Senufo-Speaking Communities

Sunday, February 22, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
Location:  Recital Hall
Carolyn and Jack Lampl Jr. Family Recital Hall
Recital Hall

About The Event

In 1953, French Catholic missionary Gabriel Clamens published a photograph of a group of sculptures standing outside. His colleague Michel Convers subsequently recognized the site of the photo as Lataha, a community of Senufo-language speakers in northern Côte d’Ivoire. Scholars and other admirers of African art have since viewed the photo as proof that the sculptures originated in Lataha. Yet, if we peer beyond the picture frame, we realize the photograph provides insufficient information. We still know little about the exact circumstances surrounding the photo’s making or the people who originally created, used, or circulated the sculptures in it. Comparable ambiguity applies to the Senufo label itself. Who defines arts as Senufo? When, where, why, how, on what basis, and for what ends do they do so?

In her lecture to mark the opening of Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa, Gagliardi demonstrates that a work’s correspondence to an art-historical style defined by cultural or ethnic group may reveal little, if anything, about that work other than how connoisseurs have classified it. Rather, each object, assemblage, installation, or performance offers boundless possibilities for considering the historical dynamism, localized contexts, individual agency, and aesthetic concerns contributing to and shaped by that work’s production and reception.