Double Fortune, Double Trouble: Art for Twins among the Yorùbá
Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, CA, United States 13 Oct 2013 - 02 Mar 2014
Fowler at Fifty celebrates the trajectory of the Fowler Museum’s growth over the last five decades. Opening to the public on Oct. 13, 2013 is a suite of eight exhibitions that honor the achievements of the Museum. Each exhibition features a particular strength of the Museum’s holdings, and each takes a curatorial approach or engages an artist’s perspective.
This exhibition explores the power and prevalence of two-ness in Yorùbá art and thought with a display of more than 250 carved wood twin memorial figures, known as ere ibeji. The Yorùbá, who live in southwestern Nigeria as well as Togo and Benin, have one of the highest rates of twinning in the world, and special attention is paid to twins, both in life and after. These works from the Fowler’s extraordinary collection display a remarkable stylistic range and illuminate issues of apprenticeship and mastery, local innovation and invention, and the ways their surfaces and adornments show how they were treated and transformed once they left the sculptors’ hands and moved into the hands, hearts, and minds of family members. Additionally, contemporary artist Simone Leigh’s newly commissioned installation Topsy Turvy will incorporate hundreds of colorful, West African plastic dolls (that sometimes substitute for the carved figures) in a dramatic suspended work.
Leigh creates sculpture, video, and installations informed by her interest in African art, ethnographic research, feminism, and performance.
This exhibition was curated by Henry John Drewal, Evjue-Bascom Professor of African and African Diaspora Arts, University of Wisconsin, Madison, with Betsy D. Quick, Director of Education and Curatorial Affairs, Fowler Museum at UCLA.