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UAL Research Online

Commission to Collect Contemporary Dogon Objects

Richards, Polly (2007) Commission to Collect Contemporary Dogon Objects. [Show/Exhibition] (In Press)

Type of Research: Show/Exhibition
Creators: Richards, Polly

This is a research project focusing on the evolving material culture of the Dogon people of Central Mali, exploring the manner in which social change impacts on locally made objects; the project questions what a collection of objects can demonstrate about modernity.

The primary concern is to explore the manner in which social change impacts locally made objects, and to ask what a collection of objects can demonstrate about modernity and change in the Dogon region today.

The Dogon region remains today an iconic example of ‘tribal authenticity,’ yet in reality Dogon people are constantly negotiating traditions and modernities in response to the rapidly changing environment around them. The collection builds upon an earlier group of 70 or so contemporary Dogon objects Richards had previously collected for the Horniman Museum in South London over a period of four years (1998-2000).

The collection was commissioned by Enid Shildkrout (Head Curator of the Museum for African Art (MAA), New York). Objects collected by Richards include funerary, cast brass objects, basket seats, caryatid stools and painted gourds. The collection will provide an invaluable bench-mark for future generations to come and will be curated by Richards for an exhibition at the MAA in New York funded in part by the U.S. National Endowment Fund for Humanities. The collection is currently part of MAA’s study collection.

The acquisition project is significant in being the first collection of contemporary objects to be commissioned by an American museum and is only the second of its kind in the world. It comprises a new group of everyday objects that demonstrate significant evolution and change in response to wider changes in the Dogon region. The collection is supported by field work documentation including interviews with artists and photographic and written documentation of the manufacturing processes.

Additional Information (Publicly available):

Polly Richards graduated in theatre design at Nottingham Trent University in 1990. She practiced as a theatre and film designer for seven years before moving into the field of museum and exhibition design. Following on from a PhD that looked at the evolution of masks and masquerade amongst the Dogon people of Mali, West Africa, Richards’s current research at Wimbledon College of Art focuses upon modernity and change in their material culture in general and as revealed through museum collections throughout the world. Her research aims to challenge perceptions of what are commonly perceived as static crafts-based traditions, and of collections locked apparently in the past. In tandem with her research, Richards is developing an exhibition at the Museum of African Art in New York and a book that explores these ideas.

Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Wimbledon College of Arts
Date: 14 December 2007
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2009 13:15
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2019 14:39
Item ID: 1843
URI: http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1843

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