Seeing the Unseen: Arts of Power Associations on the Senufo-Mande Cultural Frontier (9780253064271)
How do arts convey the existence of potent knowledge without revealing details of that knowledge?
In Seeing the Unseen, art historian Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi examines tensions between the seen and unseen that makers, patrons, and audiences of arts in western West Africa negotiate through objects, assemblages, and performances. Gagliardi examines how ambiguity anchors design of the arts, and she shows that attempts to determine exact meanings miss the point. Specialists across western West Africa construct assemblages, installations, and buildings that hint at the possibility of revelation, but full disclosure remains unattainable. Specific activities and contexts integral to the design and use of the works often leave no visible trace.
Through attention to many ways of seeing and knowing, Seeing the Unseen opens new possibilities for the study of so-called historical or classical arts of Africa grounded in the specificity of individual works, their making, and their reception. It also prompts us to reflect on how we know and what it means to know in any context.
Publisher: Indiana University Press (01/03/2023)
Hardcover: 342 pages
Item Weight: 2.25lbs
Dimensions: 9.06h x 8.43w x 0.87d
About the Author
Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi is Associate Professor of Art History at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her scholarship draws on extensive study in West Africa, with a focus on western Burkina Faso, as well as archival and object-centered research in Africa, Europe, and North America. She is author of Senufo Unbound: Dynamics of Art and Identity in West Africa, and she has initiated and codirects the collaborative digital project Mapping Senufo: Art, Evidence, and the Production of Knowledge.