Catalogue


Inventing masks : agency and history in the art of the Central Pende /
Z.S. Strother.
imprint
Chicago, Ill. : University of Chicago Press, 1998.
description
xxvii, 348 p. : ill. (some col.).
ISBN
0226777324 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chicago, Ill. : University of Chicago Press, 1998.
isbn
0226777324 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
1787042
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1998-06:
Masks play an important part in the life of the Pende, as with many Central African peoples. Strother has produced an in-depth scholarly study of Pende masquerade traditions, especially during and following the colonial experience. What makes the book notable is Strother's focus on creativity and the processes of artistic innovation, which the author contends have kept those masking customs vital. While much of the research is based on the contemporary situation, a precolonial and early-colonial art history is also incorporated as an important part of the study. Accompanying the text are many illustrations of both museum objects and field photos (varied in quality and mostly black and white), an appendix, and an extensive bibliography. The writing style and vocabulary is academic, so anyone but students of African art will find the book a difficult read. Highly recommended for academic libraries with interests in art history or African studies.ÄEugene C. Burt, Art Inst. of Seattle Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1998-09-01:
Museums often display African masks as timeless icons of primitivism--just one of the misperceptions that Strother dispels in this strong study. Strother's flair for deep description, complemented by action-filled photographs from her 32 months of research among the Pende people of Congo/Kinshasa, allows readers vicarious participation in galvanizing spectacles. Some Pende masks endure for centuries; others change to meet new circumstances. Invention begins when a young man seeking fame and women's admiration creates some new dance step, then the music, narrative, and costuming to realize his innovative drama. Pende notions of physiognomy, "kinetic memory," identifying particular artists, audience roles, and problems of reconstructing precolonial art history are among pertinent issues Strother considers. She reveals cultural inconsistencies rather than presenting a falsely cohesive account: "dance puts death at a distance," yet the dead consecrate performance by dancing with the living. Strother's greatest strength is in providing apt anecdotes, at once proving her friendship with Pende, her acute perception, and her skills as an engaging writer. Pende ideas, however, can be situated in a far broader context of central African expression and performance theory than is attempted here. Upper-division undergraduates and above. A. F. Roberts University of Iowa
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, June 1998
Choice, September 1998
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Summaries
Main Description
Who invents masks, and why? Such questions have rarely been asked, due to stereotypes of anonymous African artists locked into the reproduction of "traditional" models of representation. Rather than accept this view of African art as timeless and unchanging, Z. S. Strother spent nearly three years in Zaire studying Pende sculpture. Her research reveals the rich history and lively contemporary practice of Central Pende masquerade. She describes the intensive collaboration among sculptors and dancers that is crucial to inventing masks. Sculptors revealed that a central theme in their work is the representation of perceived differences between men and women. Far from being unchanging, Pende masquerades promote unceasing innovation within genres and invention of new genres. Inventing Masks demonstrates, through first hand accounts and lavish illustrations, how Central Pende masquerading is a contemporary art form fully responsive to twentieth-century experience. "Its presentation, its exceptionally lively style, the perfection of its illustrations make this a stunning book, perfectly fitting for the study of a performing art and its content is indeed seminal. . . . A breakthrough."Jan Vansina, African Studies Review
Main Description
Who invents masks, and why? Such questions have rarely been asked, due to stereotypes of anonymous African artists locked into the reproduction of "traditional" models of representation. Rather than accept this view of African art as timeless and unchanging, Z. S. Strother spent nearly three years in Zaire studying Pende sculpture. Her research reveals the rich history and lively contemporary practice of Central Pende masquerade. She describes the intensive collaboration among sculptors and dancers that is crucial to inventing masks. Sculptors revealed that a central theme in their work is the representation of perceived differences between men and women. Far from being unchanging, Pende masquerades promote unceasing innovation within genres and invention of new genres. Inventing Masks demonstrates, through first hand accounts and lavish illustrations, how Central Pende masquerading is a contemporary art form fully responsive to twentieth-century experience. "Its presentation, its exceptionally lively style, the perfection of its illustrations make this a stunning book, perfectly fitting for the study of a performing art and its content is indeed seminal. . . . A breakthrough."--Jan Vansina, African Studies Review
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface
Acknowledgments
Note on Orthography
The Process of Invention
"Dancing the Masks": Introduction to the World of Pende Masquerading
Who Invents Masks Anyway?
Costuming for Change
Birth of an Atelier, Birth of a Style
Pende Theories of Physiognomy and Gender
Learning to Read Faces, Learning to Read MasksCoda
The History of Invention
A Precolonial Pende Art History?
Masks in the Colonial Period
Conclusion: The Role of the Audience in Invention and Reinvention
Appendix: Further Notes on Certain Mask Genres
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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