Daily Archives: August 2, 2012
In this long podcast/acoustiguide from John Jay College in 2006, narrator Fritz Umbach takes apart mainly West African History in their art, trade, and contact with Middle Eastern and European Peoples (mainly the Portuguese). In between history lessons, he describes and discusses various art pieces on display at the Met. Each art piece represents something from a kingdom. One can tell Umbach and the Met tries to prevent themselves from making the same mistakes that other non-Africans did when categorizing and explaining African art. Especially when dispelling any myths about relations between African kingdoms and the people they worked with. According to the podcast, relations went sour when Victorian era England conquered and took the art from the Benin Kingdom. You do learn a lot about art motifs and what they represented, and the artist’s fusion of outside influences. Besides Umbach, an anthropologist from Ghana (whom I am skittish about trying to spell his name) explains the meaning behind Ghana art and its influences. Where other archived acoustiguides separated each segment into different podcasts, the Met put them all together into one forty-five minute and thirty-nine second opus. I think I prefer the shorter ones. Still, a nice and informative source on rich and complex cultures.