Essays by James Hyman

Dream Shows: Bamana Masks

Dream Shows: Bamana Masks

 
 

Essay by James Hyman, Galleries magazine.


The recent exhibition of "tribal" artifacts by the Chapman Brothers at White Cube was a witty critique of the relationship between first and third world but made me wish that more African and Oceanic objects were visible in London. With the Museum of Mankind closed, the British Museum showing only a fraction of its holdings and the Royal Academy's Africa show a fading memory, I would love to see an exhibition of Bamana masks, specifically the monkey, lion and hyena masks used by the Ntomo and Kore initiation societies. Extraordinarily refined and richly patinated, these masks are not only profoundly beautiful aesthetic objects but also provide a fascinating insight into cultural attitudes to coming of age.

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