In the current exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, Art from Africa:
Long Steps Never Broke a Back, a dozen African and American artists/scholars
have guided the museum staff in presenting African works with the creative
elements that contextualize them, such as music, movements, staging,
special effects and conversation. The Long Steps project incorporates
a series of 17 installations, presentations and performances, and will
be on view in the museum's Gates Gallery Feb. 7 – May 19, 2002.
The “Long Steps” of the exhibition's title refers to a Yoruba proverb, but can also refer to the distance visitors to American museums must travel to connect an African artwork with its origins. In this exhibition, however, works from the museum's collection, as well as several loaned pieces, are presented along with audio and video recordings of personal memories and opinions; primary oral narratives; and conversations on such topics as the nature of collecting, the creation of heroes in the past and present, the separation of private from public art, and the meaning of authenticity, featuring the words, wisdom and artistry of Daniel “Koo Nimo” Amponsah, Fu-Kiau Bunseki, Kakuta Hamisi, Babatunde Lawal, Won Ldy Paye, Gilbert Mbeng, Magdalene Odundo, Robert Farris Thompson, Yinka Shonibare, Hannah Foday, and Lamidi Ayankunle.
Art from Africa: Long Steps Never Broke a Back includes installations,
performances, film showings, lectures and artist-in-residencies representing
diverse cultural classifications such as royal art from the Kom and
Asante kingdoms; masquerades from the Yoruba, Dan and Mende; powerfully
encrusted Mande hunters' shirts; sculptures created for healing from
the Kongo; contemporary ceramics; Maasai beadwork collected by a community;
and photographs from Mali. A publication of the same title with chapters
devoted to case histories of collecting objects and meanings is available
through the museum’s shop.
Curator of African and Oceanic Art