Courses / Fall 2021

Fall 2021

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    Course Number: HA 192M | CCN: 24849

    Undergraduate Seminar: Transformations: Modern and Contemporary African Art

    Ivy Mills

    Thursday: 9:00-12:00pm

    This course explores themes and processes of transformation at multiple registers in modern and contemporary African art. Historically, transformation has been central to African visual cultures; we can look, for example, to masquerades, sculptural constructs imbued with metaphysical force, and objects related to initiation. The manipulation of form and materials – along with the alchemical combination of potent substances and the activation of objects by ritual specialists – entails the transformation of disparate components into powerful visual constructs that can make things happen. Such objects can also be used to enable a second order of transformation: they can help children turn into adults (via initiation) or immaterial entities temporarily materialize in the bodies of living performers (masquerade).   

    Many modern and contemporary African artists have also placed transformation at the center of their practice, but the context has changed. In this course, we will explore connections between historical approaches to transformation and contemporary ones, but we will also seek to understand engagements with transformation that exceed that historical framework. How, we will ask, do these engagements relate to social, political, economic, and environmental concerns in the postcolonial era?

    This course fulfills the following requirements for the History of Art major: Geographical area (D) and Chronological period (III).

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