Author:Silvia Forni (Royal Ontario Museum)
Paper short abstract:
This paper looks at the works of two contemporary artists Hervé Youmbi and Elisabeth Efua Sutherland and their engagement with traditional practices, the anthropological literature interpreting these practices, and the researchers investigating these contexts.
Paper long abstract:
Art can be a very powerful mean of affective communication. Historically anthropologists have grappled with the way in which performance and ritual can be effective in building community and reinforcing culturally acceptable normative behaviour. Though disruption and rule breaking are often at the core of ritual performance, these are played within acceptable and culturally sanctioned spaces and boundaries in ways that ultimately reinforces a society's status quo. This paper looks at the works of two contemporary artists Hervé Youmbi and Elisabeth Efua Sutherland who, in different ways and contests, research and intervene on traditional performance in ways that echo and disrupt anthropological approaches. Based in Cameroon and Ghana respectively, these artists engage on the one hand with the traditional practices of their own cultures of origin, while at the same time establishing a self-conscious dialogue with the anthropological literature interpreting these practices and the researchers investigating these contexts. Based on long term conversations with Youmbi and a more recent relationship with Sutherland, I reflect on the shared theoretical questions that inform academic and artistic investigations, but also on the very different products and outcomes that these lead to. Furthermore, I question the varying import of the spaces and places of fruition of the academic and artistic research and the rather powerful affective and practical outcomes of artistic performances held in community spaces or in contemporary art settings.
Art beyond visual (cognitive designs) as creative praxis: A nexus for uncertain worldview