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X-Posted from H-NET List for African Expressive Culture <H-AFRARTS@H-NET.MSU.EDU> From: Michael Conner <mwconner1@COMCAST.NET> ________ From: Suzanne Blier <email@example.com> Sent: Wed, May 5, 2010 For the last few years I have been pressing for a reexamination of the Ife Olokun head. It was clear to me from my examination of the work in Nigeria in 2006 and at other times that it was not a fake. The earlier reported metal tests were correct for the period - as is its form, iconography and various details. I consulted metal conservators at Harvard and elsewhere. Pressing the potentials that the current Ife exhibition had for clarifying this issue, in August 2009 I emailed those who could be in a position to initiate an examination of the Olokun head in London, providing sources on a similar example (a late Greek bronze horse at the MMA) that seemed to suggest one possible basis of the confusion (modern era conservation techniques or the creation of plaster casts that leave residue on the core). I would be happy to forward the references. News the last few days indicates that the Ife results are largely now in: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/sculpture-deemed-too-complex-for-africa-could-be-real-after-all-1961485.html The article credits others (the stakes in Ife art discourse, are complex). But no matter. This is potentially great news! The wonderful Olokun head will again likely claim its rightful place as world art masterpiece. Wole Soyinka's take on this whole Olokun fakery business still remains a classic. There are lots of other interesting dimensions of this Olokun "fake" post history that I learned in the course my Ife research. There also is a good short Ife video that may interest some for teaching. It features John Picton - eloquent and thoughtful as always - along with Paul Craddock, also excellent on lost wax casting: http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/all_current_exhibitions/kingdom_of_ife/kin The Ife introduction video is also on line: http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/all_current_exhibitions/kingdom_of_ife/kingdom_of_ife_videos.aspx . One could provocatively deconstruct questions of sound, lighting, and camera work in class vis-a-vis primitivizing tropes, and, of course, the works are amazing. Suzanne Preston Blier, Harvard University H-AfrArts H-Net Network for African Expressive Culture E -Mail: H-AFRARTS@H-NET.MSU.EDU http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~artsweb/