Disguise: Masks and Global African Art

Brooklyn Museum, New York, United States
29 Apr 2016 - 18 Sep 2016

Disguise: Masks and Global African Art

Zina Saro-Wiwa (British/Nigerian, born 1976). The Invisible Man, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.

‘Disguise’ connects works by twenty-five contemporary artists with examples of traditional disguise.

Through play and provocation, and by engaging both African history and global contemporary politics, Disguise invites us to think critically about our world and our place within it, and to imagine whimsical and tangible possibilities for the future. It includes an immersive and lively installation of video, digital media, sound, and installation art, as well as photography and sculpture.

The contemporary artists featured include Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou (Benin), Nick Cave (U.S.), Edson Chagas (Angola), Steven Cohen (South Africa/France), Willie Cole (U.S.), Jakob Dwight (U.S.), Hasan and Husain Essop (South Africa), Brendan Fernandes (Kenya/Canada/U.S.), Alejandro Guzman (Puerto Rico), Gerald Machona (Zimbabwe), Nandipha Mntambo (South Africa), Jean-Claude Moschetti (France/Benin), Toyin Ojih Odutola (U.S.), Emeka Ogboh (Nigeria), Wura-Natasha Ogunji (U.S./Nigeria), Walter Oltmann (South Africa), Sondra R. Perry (U.S.), Zina Saro-Wiwa (U.S./U.K./Nigeria), Jacolby Satterwhite (U.S.), Paul Anthony Smith (Jamaica/U.S.), Adejoke Tugbiyele (U.S./Nigeria), Iké Udé (Nigeria), Sam Vernon (U.S.), William Villalongo (U.S.), and Saya Woolfalk (U.S.).

The exhibition features contemporary artists from Africa and of African descent working across the globe–including thirteen in Brooklyn and the New York area–who offer fresh visions of masquerade. Presented alongside historical masks, the contemporary works provoke, in often intentionally discomforting ways, a heightened awareness of key contemporary issues such as race, women’s agency, queerness, the exoticization and eroticization of the “other,” governmental corruption, and the limits of empathetic understanding.

Originally produced by the Seattle Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum presentation has been reorganized to include more than twenty-five additional works culled from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection of both historical and contemporary art.

“Masquerade has long been a tool for African artists to expose hidden issues, and to challenge the status quo. However, once masks were removed from performance and transformed into museum objects, their larger critical and artistic messages became lost. Drawing from today’s media-saturated world, Disguise’s artists fill the galleries with innovative and provocative contemporary works that remove us from our current moment and usher us into a space where closer looking and deeper perception prevail,” said Kevin Dumouchelle, Associate Curator, Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands, Brooklyn Museum. “Disguise aims to reconnect masks and bodies in performance and to use historical objects to understand twenty-first-century art. After all, through masquerade artists can perform the past and invent the future.”

A broad and engaging range of programming will transform the gallery into a welcoming space for conversation and connection.

Disguise: Masks and Global African Art was originally organized by the Seattle Art Museum. The Brooklyn presentation is organized by Kevin Dumouchelle, Associate Curator, Arts of Africa and the Pacific Islands, Brooklyn Museum.



All content © 2024 Contemporary And. All Rights Reserved. Website by SHIFT