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Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

AAOA

The Museum's collection of art of the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, and North, Central, and South America comprises more than eleven thousand works of art of varied materials and types, representing diverse cultural traditions from as early as 3000 B.C.E. to the present. Highlights include decorative and ceremonial objects from the Court of Benin in Nigeria; sculpture from West and Central Africa; images of gods, ancestors, and spirits from New Guinea, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Island Southeast Asia; and objects of gold, ceramic, and stone from the Precolumbian cultures of Mexico and Central and South America.

Kongo Exhibition Blog

A Curator's Farewell: Four Months in Kongo

Alisa LaGamma, Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator in Charge, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and Lubangi Muniania, Senior Instructor at Kimpa Vita Institute and President of Tabilulu Productions

Posted: Friday, January 8, 2016

After four years of preparation, and four months of being on view, Kongo: Power and Majesty closed this past Sunday, January 3. I'd like to take the opportunity now to reflect on the exhibition and the enduring impact of Kongo masterworks. I've also invited Lubangi Muniania, senior instructor at Kimpa Vita Institute and President of Tabilulu Productions, to consider the importance of African traditions in the Congo, and their role in museums; his perspective follows my own thoughts below.

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Kongo Exhibition Blog

A Musical Revelation: Kongo Music Past and Present

Gabriel Kilongo, Intern; and Ned Sublette, Author and Musicologist

Posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Intern Gabriel Kilongo recently spoke to author, composer, musicologist, and record producer Ned Sublette about the musical traditions of historic Kongo and its corresponding modern-day states for the recently closed exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty. As a 2012 Knight-Luce Fellow for Reporting on Global Religion at the University of Southern California, Sublette undertook research in Angola, and his four-episode Hip Deep Angola radio series was produced for the Peabody Award–winning public radio program Afropop Worldwide.

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Kongo Exhibition Blog

Bringing Together Historical and Contemporary Perspectives with Howard French

Alisa LaGamma, Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator in Charge, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and Howard French, Associate Professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015

On December 12, Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist, author, and current Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism Associate Professor Howard French met with Alisa LaGamma, Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator in Charge of the Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, in the galleries of the exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty for a public interdisciplinary conversation on the art of power, leadership, and global trade in Central Africa. The conversation brought together historical and contemporary perspectives on one of Africa's greatest civilizations.

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Now at the Met

Reinforcing Sierra Leonean Identity: Alphonso Lisk-Carew

Julie Crooks, Guest Blogger

Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Alphonso Lisk-Carew was a Sierra Leonean photographer whose practice was firmly rooted in the histories of Sierra Leone. Lisk-Carew's career spanned over fifty years, and his photography threw into sharp relief Sierra Leone's myriad local personalities, cityscapes, cultural practices, and natural resources. Through his lens, Lisk-Carew witnessed the development of Sierra Leone under the colonial regime, and became one amongst many early Sierra Leonean photographers who had a hand in shaping the country's history.

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Kongo Exhibition Blog

A Visit to Kongo: Power and Majesty Unites Generations Removed

William C. Rhoden, Sports Columnist, The New York Times

Posted: Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Who would have thought that four-hundred-year-old artifacts could reach across generations and resonate with a group of young people in 2015?

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Kongo Exhibition Blog

Body Language in Kongo Art: A Choreographer's Perspective

Claudia Schreier, Choreographer

Posted: Thursday, December 24, 2015

The parallels in both structure and symbolism between the objects in the exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty (open through January 3) and dance as a codified art form are endless. Unexpectedly, though unsurprisingly, I was immediately drawn to some of the abstract objects in the exhibition that lead the eye along complex paths such as the exquisitely intricate weaves and multilayered tones of the luxury raffia cushion covers and the carvings that wind around the length of the ivory tusks.

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Kongo Exhibition Blog

Patterns without End: The Techniques and Designs of Kongo Textiles

Christine Giuntini, Conservator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and Susan Brown, Associate Curator of Textiles, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Posted: Friday, December 18, 2015

On November 12, Susan Brown, associate curator of textiles at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, sat down with Conservator Christine Giuntini to discuss the materials and techniques Kongo artists used to make the luxury woven textiles in the exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty, open through January 3.

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Kongo Exhibition Blog

The Path They Trod: An Avenue of Mango Trees on the Loango Coast

James Green, Research Associate, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2015

As part of the research for the exhibition Kongo: Power and Majesty, I traveled to the Loango coast region of the Republic of the Congo with Alisa LaGamma, Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator in Charge of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and Conservator Ellen Howe in May 2015. We visited Loango Bay, where the transatlantic slave trade has been memorialized through the planting of an avenue of mango trees (Mangifera indica L.). Similar to Jo Ractliffe's approach in her photographs of Angola and South Africa, we looked at sites of conflict in the silence that exists afterwards.

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Now at the Met

Photographing the Gold Coast: The Lutterodt Studios

Erin Haney, Guest Blogger

Posted: Monday, December 7, 2015

Who were those Gold Coast men? Lamentably, we are often missing crucial information on photographs from the 1880s. Still, it's worth making some educated guesses about what is signified in Albert George Lutterodt and George A. G. Lutterodt's Five Men.

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Kongo Exhibition Blog

The Loango Archaeological Project (1987–93)

James Denbow, Professor of Archaeology, University of Texas at Austin

Posted: Friday, December 4, 2015

Between 1987 and 1993, the Loango Archaeology Project (LAP)—a multi-season archaeological project in the region of the historic kingdoms of Kongo and Loango—located over two hundred prehistoric sites on the coastal plain of the Republic of the Congo. Test excavations and radiocarbon dates from fifteen of these sites provided one of the first cultural chronologies for the western coast of Equatorial Africa and resulted in the discovery of a number of Kongo artifacts, several of which are on view in Kongo: Power and Majesty.

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