Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Author: Annemarie De Wildt

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The Dancing Kabra Mask

#1 kabra mask

Anthropologist James Clifford argues that art museums must learn from anthropologists; for example, to see objects as a process and not just as a product. The use of the object adds value. This is exactly what happens when the Kabra mask dances and gives the ancestors an opportunity to manifest themselves. Masks make sounds, says Clifford, they move, but they lose that ability in museum display cases. Once they end up in a museum, they stop their function in society.
Annemarie de Wildt of the Amsterdam Museum tells the story of the creation and the acquisition of the dancing Kabra Mask.

Kabra dance-mask, Boris van Berkum, 2013. Lacquered polyurethane, textile 66 x 40 x 40 cm. Collection Amsterdam Museum. photo Erik Hesmerg

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