Disguise: Masks and Global African Art

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, United States
18 Jun 2015 - 07 Sep 2015

Disguise: Masks and Global African Art

Europa, 2008, Nandipha Mntambo, South Africa, b. 1982, exhibition print, photographic composite by Tony Meintjes, 31 1/2 x 31 1/2 in., loan from the artist and STEVENSON, Cape Town and Johannesburg. © Nandipha Mntambo, Photo courtesy of STEVENSON, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

From 18 June, Seattle Art Museum (SAM) is to host “Disguise: Masks and Global African Art”, an exhibition celebrating 21st-century evolutions of the mask and exploring contemporary forms of disguise.

Enter a new mask—one for the 21st century: it’s startling and joyful but also serious and menacing. When our experiences become difficult or curious, how do we confront what can’t be explained? One option is to shake it out by adopting disguises and staging a masquerade. Contemporary artists from Africa and of African descent explore this impulse by filling the galleries with inventive avatars and provocative new myths, taking us on mysterious journeys through city streets and futuristic landscapes.

The exhibition gathers together artists working in Africa, Europe, and America. Disguise features work from 12 contemporary African artists, including Angolan photographer Edson Chagas, Nigerian contemporary artists Toyin OdutolaWura-Natasha OgunjiEmeka OgbohZina Saro-Wiwa and Iké Udé, Zimbabwean visual artist Gerald Machona, South African photographers Hasan and Husain Essop, Beninise photographer Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, South African mixed-media artist Nandipha Mntambo, and Kenyan-Indian visual artist Brendan Fernandes. Rounding out the show are pieces by Nick Cave, Alejandro Guzman, Jakob Dwight, Saya Woolfalk, Paul Anthony Smith, Ebony G. Patterson, Sam Vernon, Jacolby Satterwhite and William Villalongo.


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Organised by SAM, “Disguise” will travel to the Fowler Museum at UCLA from 18 October 2015 until 13 March 2016, and to the Brooklyn Museum from 22 April until 11 September 2016, after its presentation in Seattle. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with statements by all ten artists featured in the exhibition, an essay by Seattle Art Museum’s Curator of African and Oceanic Art Pamela McClusky, and an interview with Consultant Curator Erika Dalya Massaquoi.