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OGBÓGBÓDIRIN!: Metal Figures, Emblems and Ritual Implements of the Yòrùbá Ògbóni/Òsùgbó Society
Speaker: Babatunde Lawal, Professor, Department of Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University
Meaning, “Age-and-Still-be-Strong-like-Iron,” the epithet “Ogbógbódirin,” refers to Oòni Obàlùfòn, an ancient monarch of the Yòrùbá kingdom of Ifè who reportedly lived for more than a century. He was later deified and associated with longevity. He is also credited with introducing the lost-wax casting technique to his kingdom. In short, the technique launched the production of a variety of images by Yòrùbá artists, including those now identified with Ògbóni, the society (aka Òsùgbó) that wielded enormous political, judicial, and religious powers among the Yoruba in the past and still does, to some extent, today. Much of the society’s authority derives from its role as the vital link between a given community and the Earth Goddess (Ilè) who sustains life in the physical world. Membership of the Ògbóni/Òsùgbó society is highly prestigious and hence restricted to a selected few, particularly those who have attained distinction in their professions and have proven to be people of high integrity and mature judgment.
The lecture focuses on the ontological significance of art among the Yòrùbá of present-day republics of Nigeria, Benin and Togo in West Africa, paying special attention to form, meaning as well as material metaphor in the metal figures, emblems and ritual implements of the Ògbóni/Òsùgbó society. This lecture is presented in connection with the exhibition Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa. Reception to follow lecture.
Maggie Taylor: Artist Lecture and Book Signing
Artist Maggie Taylor will discuss the evolution of her digital imagery and give some insights into her creative process. Sharing examples from a variety of her projects, including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, she will discuss how her images change day-by-day until completion, and how her artistry has evolved over time. Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, Illustrated by Maggie Taylor will be available for sale in the Harn Museum Store. A book signing will follow the lecture.
Afro-Atlantic, Neo-Romantic: Reflections on Rotimi Fani-Kayode
Speaker: Kobena Mercer, Professor of History of Art and African American Studies at Yale University
Nigeria-British artist Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955-1989) created his entire oeuvre in the six years between his 1983 return to the UK after studying in New York and his HIV-related death in London 1989. How should be best understand the timeless nature of his photographs, which are as freshly challenging today as they were over thirty years ago? Taking into account Fani-Kayode's writings and those of his life-partner, Alex Hirst, this lecture explores the different understanding of temporality in 'classical' and 'romantic' traditions as a background to weighing up which concept fits best for understanding Fani-Kayode's commitment to cross-cultural aesthetics--is it hybridity, syncretism or transculturation?
Peace, Power and Prestige
Curator of African Art Susan Cooksey will discuss behind-the-scenes efforts in creating and organizing the Harn original exhibition, Peace, Power and Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa.