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"Thrilling Interactions: Multisensory Experience in a Contemporary West African Masquerade"

Join Lisa Homann (UNCC) at GOODYEAR ARTS, Camp Northend 

Masquerade objects form the foundation of African art history’s canon, yet are widely misrepresented. Based on over a decade of research in Southwestern Burkina Faso, West Africa, this talk will offer an overview of contemporary masquerade arts and practices, addressing the question, “What is masquerade?” While we might be accustomed to viewing and understanding African masks as wood headpieces displayed on walls in museums and private collections, Homann argues that masks are not just objects to be looked at. Rather, mask headpieces are just one element of masquerade, which is a thrilling interactive and multisensory experience. Her presentation will include photographs, videos, and eyewitness accounts of recent mask performances.


Lisa Homann is Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Humanities Forum (2013-2014) and holds an MA and a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She specializes in West African masquerade practices from the late 19th century to the present. Her research concentrates on performance, innovation, Islam and Muslim identities, and theories of representation. She serves on the editorial board of the journal African Arts, and has been conducting research in Burkina Faso since 2006.

Currently she is working on her first book, tentatively titled Visibly Muslim: White Mask Performance in Southwestern Burkina Faso. It considers how a masquerade, through its visual aesthetic and performance, can identify participants as Muslims and strengthen and challenge expectations of appropriate (public) behavior. While focusing on the history of this masquerade’s visual and performance aesthetics, the book project aims to problematize a perceived binary hostility between Islam and African art, particularly masquerade. 

Video footage of ephemeral masquerades that Dr. Homann took in Burkina Faso was recently added to the North Carolina Museum of Art's permanent collection of African art, opening in a new expanded gallery in summer 2017.

Homann offers courses ranging from an introductory survey of visual and material culture in Africa to contemporary African art, West African art and display, African American art, and advanced topics on masquerade.


Earlier Event: October 16
"Hip Hop: The Last Total Art Movement"
Later Event: December 12
Printmaking in the West