Posted inArt

Reconfiguring The African Mask: From Artifact To Art Form

Whether sequestered behind glass in a museum or sold to tourists along Fifth Avenue, the African mask is an image from the non-Western world that we are all familiar with. Yet walking though the African art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other day, I felt somewhat disconnected from the African mask. Severed from its intended use for performance and ceremonies, the mask as it is presented in the museum becomes an ambiguous object. Does the mask still have relevance when removed from its cultural context? Can we appreciate it for just its form? Is it art or artifact?