Epa Masquerade ceremony. Image courtesy the speaker.

Manifest Presence – Making Human: Sculpture and Anthropology

Henry Moore Institute

Recent constructions of anthropological theories of culture have placed an emphasis upon the nature of materiality, and more specifically on the idea of ‘things’. Things have become central to the anthropological imagination, increasingly providing the basis for theories of culture; from the constructions of social relationships to the understanding of metaphysical thought. Nevertheless, in relation to sculpture, within the anthropology of art there remains a legacy of past discourses, one that persists in foregrounding those ‘things’ of other cultures that correspond to western notions of sculptural form.

The relationship between anthropology and sculpture is janus-faced, on one side sculpture is still ethnographic art and on the other it embeds the new thinking on materials, agencies and social relationships.

In this lecture Dr Will Rea outlined and developed the ways in which we may move the anthropological understanding of sculptural form beyond the ethnographic – either as documentation or appropriation – and beyond the relational aesthetics of ethnographic envy toward an idea of manifestation. In so doing the lecture offered sculptural form as a challenge to the perspectival form of painting.

Will Rea is senior lecturer in the Art History of Africa at the University of Leeds. Trained as an anthropologist at the Sainsbury Research Unit, Norwich, he initially came to Leeds as Henry Moore Fellow in Sculptural Studies and successfully ran the MA in Sculptural Studies for ten years. His main research focuses on the masquerade traditions and carving practices of the Northeastern Ekiti Yoruba. He is completing a monograph on the former and starting a major research project with the British Museum on the individual carvers of the mid-20th C. He is currently lead consultant curator on the J K Randle Yoruba Heritage Museum currently being developed in Lagos. He teaches courses on anthropology and art as well as on the classic and contemporary traditions of Africa.

Wednesday 17 July 2019

18:00 - 20:00

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow

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