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notes on EDUC class discussion

hannah's picture

what are groups doing?

group 1: ere ibeji (yoruban)
group 2: nikisi nkondi (congo)
group 3: edan ogboni (yoruban, nigeria)
group 4: door (yoruban, nigeria) and housepost (yoruban, nigeria)
group 5: fertility figure (yoruban) and ritual spoon (dom region, liberia)

themes of the objects?

group 4: boundaries between public and private, with a focus on the home and its deconstruction/reconstruction through museum exhibitions

group 2: monique's commentary and power/the construction of power in museum objects... does this "illustrate the power of currency in museum artifacts", asking the question of what defines "real" or "authentic" objects? pointing out the influence of the western gaze
(in class, we discussed still focusing on the history of power figures, and joni brought up that while this isn't a power figure (it's nkisi nkondi made to be sold, not to be used), there's still the fact that the creation of this object was a way to gain power within the structure of trade&commerce. amaka noted more generally that there are many different ways of honoring the research that group 2 has already done... even just letting the story speak for itself, and leaving room for the viewers to reflect on it. "you're working with two different objects now, work with them both.")
(bea notes that in a way, this theme applies across the whole exhibit; it feels like we ALL are working with two different objects and this one is just more explicit. franny says also that it casts more visible doubt on the exhibit as a whole, which makes this even MORE important to center. we're all doing our best guesswork. kamara points out that it's important for us to highlight how hard it is to find and to verify information)

group 1: discussion of figures, at the same time noting that we don't know anything about the actual human beings they represent
(nkechi (i think?): the more we know, the less sure we are.)

group 3: making of meaning (separation of the object from the owner and subsequent loss of meaning/reconstruction of different meaning). focus on the act of looking and of understanding. what is sacred? noting the metaphysical relationship, relationship of the person with the earth, etc. 

group 5: originally this was centered on the theme of motherhood/care/generosity (possibly bringing in quotes from beloved about being on display (when you shouldn't be)) -- however, they've been discussing the problem with museum curators grouping items together and making a mass generalization about them. trying to figure out how to look for thematic commonalities while recognizing contextual differences. noting how objects are used, and the power invested there. spoon as self-conscious.

jody's question: are any of these objects intended for display? for museum display, for *our* display? what does it mean to display?


(hannah's small note/reflection)
when i visit museums, i tend to read plaques with the implicit assumption that this information has been carefully curated as well-- that out of the multiple facts available to the curators, they've chosen to include the most relevant and important ones.
what i'm realizing for our exhibit, though, is that sometimes we only have access to a very limited amount of facts and history. we don't know what the leaf motif means, we don't know the initiation process related to the giving of the staffs, we don't know the specific process by which they were made or the reasoning behind the formation of each pair. we haven't chosen NOT to include these answers-- we don't have them in the first place.