#SAMDisguise: Emeka Ogboh on masks

#SAMDisguise: Emeka Ogboh on masks

Chukwu Okoro masks

Artist Emeka Ogboh speaks on masks by Chukwu Okoro

Chukwu Okoro masks

Chukwu Okoro masks

LOW/NO VISION

LOW/NO VISION

Transcript

My name is Emeka Ogboh, I'm a sound artist from Nigeria and I'm part of the Disguise show.

I selected the objects for two reasons. One, I'm Igbo, and Chukwu Okoro is from Afikpo, so that is also geographically from where I'm from. And secondly, masquerade is my point of entry for the Disguise show, which was the music that accompanies the masquerades.

Actually these works sort of inspired my approach to the theme disguise. I'm a sound artist, and my work involves listening and hearing, but this is an entirely new exploration for me because normally I record soundscapes or other sounds and try to reinstall them in a space. But when I was contacted for Disguise, I found out that in the collection of SAM was these masks from Afikpo, and I think the embodiment of the theme of the show, Disguise, has a lot to do with masking, being behind an object where you're not fully identified and that's what masquerade is all about. For example, that is the goat mask, and I think basically the whole concept is for the wearer to try as much as possible to imitate the animal or the spirit or whatever concept behind the mask he's wearing. These are like masquerades from where I come from. So I try to make that connection with what was existing here already, which was trying to work with sounds that could go with this whole situation of masquerading and find a way to give it a contemporary feel for the installation for the exhibition.

It's all about the wearer and also what the wearer is putting on. This one over there is supposed to signify the leader of the Okumkpa, and that is shown by the speckles on the mask has to come from eggs being broken on it. These guys are the leaders; this particular mask signifies the leader of this whole Okumkpa masquerade.

I think it's quite a very important collection for SAM. This is one of the best places that I've seen masks installed because normally they are hanging on the wall, but doing it this way with the costumes and everything also gives it character, because this masquerade were not really meant to just be hanging on the wall like that. What does that signify? I think this is really cool, with some multimedia sound and video. You know, it actually looks like they are just sitting down here, watching the cinema like the theater, all day long, watching themselves perform. So I like that.

Try to identify what symbol, what animal or what spirit each masks symbolizes. Try and reveal or try to talk about or find out what each masks represents.

LOW/NO VISION Transcript

You are listening to a visual description of the artwork intended for someone with low to no vision. An interpretive analysis will immediately follow. For interpretive analysis of the object, enter the three-digit number on the label followed by the pound key.

Masks, by Chukwu Okoro, an Afikpo artist from Nigeria. Created between 1959-1960. Wood with raffia backing. 11 masks about 10 inches tall by 5 inches wide and 5 inches deep.

This is an installation of 11 life-sized mannequin figures in masquerade costume and wooden masks. Eight of the figures are seated in the center, on a low white platform display. A lone figure stands behind this central group at the rear left, while another figure stands on the rear right, next to two seated figures on a wooden museum bench, which flanks the right side of the central platform. All of the seated figures wear natural, tan grass skirts, while the two standing figures in the left and right back of the scene have fabric skirts. Likewise, all of the seated figures except for the three in the front hold instruments such as drums that sit on the floor or in a lap. Two figures wear head coverings that appear like a mane of sticks; five figures wear fabric head wraps with black and white sticks sprouting from the top; one figure has black hair tied in a red bow; and three figures have straw brimmed sun hats.

All of the masks that the figures wear are made of wood with mostly white or black designs. They all have simple facial features, such as thin black almond slits for eyes, a protruding nose, and carved pursed lips or painted smiles.

Now, an interpretive analysis of the artwork.

My name is Emeka Ogboh, I'm a sound artist from Nigeria and I'm part of the Disguise show.

I selected the objects for two reasons. One, I'm Igbo, and Chukwu Okoro is from Afikpo, so that is also geographically from where I'm from. And secondly, masquerade is my point of entry for the Disguise show, which was the music that accompanies the masquerades.

Actually these works sort of inspired my approach to the theme disguise. I'm a sound artist, and my work involves listening and hearing, but this is an entirely new exploration for me because normally I record soundscapes or other sounds and try to reinstall them in a space. But when I was contacted for Disguise, I found out that in the collection of SAM was these masks from Afikpo, and I think the embodiment of the theme of the show, Disguise, has a lot to do with masking, being behind an object where you're not fully identified and that's what masquerade is all about. For example, that is the goat mask, and I think basically the whole concept is for the wearer to try as much as possible to imitate the animal or the spirit or whatever concept behind the mask he's wearing. These are like masquerades from where I come from. So I try to make that connection with what was existing here already, which was trying to work with sounds that could go with this whole situation of masquerading and find a way to give it a contemporary feel for the installation for the exhibition.

It's all about the wearer and also what the wearer is putting on. This one over there is supposed to signify the leader of the Okumkpa, and that is shown by the speckles on the mask has to come from eggs being broken on it. These guys are the leaders; this particular mask signifies the leader of this whole Okumkpa masquerade.

I think it's quite a very important collection for the SAM. This is one of the best places that I've seen masks installed because normally they are hanging on the wall, but doing it this way with the costumes and everything also gives it character, because this masquerade were not really meant to just be hanging on the wall like that. What does that signify? I think this is really cool, with some multimedia sound and video. You know, it actually looks like they are just sitting down here, watching the cinema like the theater, all day long, watching themselves perform. So I like that.

Try to identify what symbol, what animal or what spirit each masks symbolizes. Try and reveal or try to talk about or find out what each masks represents.