206 Chapters
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FIVE Modest Bodies, Stylish Selves: Fashioning Virtue in Niger • ADELINE MASQUELIER

Edited by Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

You must cover your body because it is God’s command. God will send angels to light up the graves of women who cover their heads with veils.

—Izala preacher, Dogondoutchi, 1994

According to a hadīth, the woman who does not veil will never smell the smell of paradise. [ . . . ] Every time she comes out of her home uncovered, she shares the sins of all the men who look at her.

—Izala preacher, Dogondoutchi, 2006

In the early 1990s a wave of religious fervor swept through Niger, promoting the development of a “heightened self-consciousness” (Eickelman and Piscatori 1996:39) about what it meant to be Muslim. The sharpening of Muslim identity in turn translated into an unprecedented focus on dress codes and the fashioning of modest personae. Members of an emerging anti-Sufi reformist movement known colloquially as Izala1 insisted that local male and female garb be modified. While they urged men to shed their voluminous riguna (robes) in favor of the jaba—a tunic worn over short-hemmed pants, they were especially keen to ensure that women concealed their bodies from head to ankles. Women wearing “skimpy” attire were harassed, and occasionally attacked, for exposing their state of undress and by implication, their lack of religious engagement. The modesty of a “true” Muslim’s attire was a measure of her virtue, Izala preachers declared, as they grew beards and put on turbans.

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Medium 9780253014092

4 Conceptual Fashion: Evocations of Africa

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

A runway in New York, 1998: Models wearing garments that range from sheath-like dresses made of loosely knitted yarn to denim jackets with large fake fur collars stride the runway to the strains of Jimi Hendrix, and then suddenly to no soundtrack at all. Loose threads dangle from the seams of some garments; others have labels sewn outside their collars.

A loading dock in Johannesburg, 2003: At an event planned by two fashion designers, attendees stand on concrete floors in an industrial building in a gritty downtown neighborhood. They watch as performers wearing large plastic bags dance and interact, pantomiming a story of trials and perseverance. The two designers work behind the scenes, holding the lanterns that illuminate the space and manipulating shadow puppets.

A workshop in Paris, 2007: Women from the Goutte d’Or, a neighborhood known for its large African population, participate in training programs led by a designer from the Comoros. They learn sewing techniques that will help them find employment. The designer and a group of participants create an exhibition at the Musée du Petit Palais that features the garments they have produced, which are made of recycled clothing, displayed on mannequins along with bales of used clothing.1

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15 On the White Russian

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Craig N. Owens

Palm trees finger the sky, and there’s enough sunshine to lay some off on Pittsburgh. But that’s all on top. L.A., truth to tell, is not much different than a pretty girl with the clap.

Coleman and Zippel, City of Angels

Thanks to James Bond’s filmic popularity, the two rival mixologies of the vodka Martini are well known: the shaken and the stirred. Indeed, one might easily imagine a Levi-Straussian work of cultural anthropology, along the lines of The Raw and the Cooked, exploring how these two mixing methods have come to encapsulate whole attitudes toward life, love, and libations. The mixological niceties of the White Russian, by contrast, remain relatively unremarked upon, even among libationists familiar with the Dude. For, while it’s conceivable that the Martini is to James Bond what the White Russian—or to use the preferred dudism, the Caucasian—is to the fortuitously eponymous protagonist of the Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski, it is not so clear what impact his Belarusian leanings have had on his favorite collation’s cultural place, beyond the cult of Lebowski enthusiasts.

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Medium 9780253006875

5. Narrating the Artist: Seyni Camara and the Multiple Constructions of the Artistic Persona

Joanna Grabski Indiana University Press ePub

SILVIA FORNI

 

Exhibition narratives have long-lasting power in determining the ways in which artists and their work are perceived and appreciated by the public and scholars. Even when the stance taken by curators of successful exhibitions is criticized by reviewers and academics, the implications of their discourse may persist for years. Sometimes, the intellectual and political narratives informing an exhibition prove to be so powerful that they completely mute the personal input of the artists included in the show. At other times, these narratives may subvert or reinforce what artists say about their own work. In all cases, these narratives have great potential to define artists’ works and professional personas.

In this chapter I address the relationship between curatorial narratives and personal self-presentation by focusing on Seyni Camara, a Senegalese sculptor from Casamance, who made her first appearance on the international art scene in the oft-cited seminal exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre” (1989).1 Apparently indifferent to the concerns of art critics, Camara presents herself in a way that seemingly replicates the framing proposed by “Magiciens de la Terre.” However, a closer look at the narratives developed by Camara and her critics reveals a much more complex picture in which personal visions are entangled with local cultural references and global ambitions in an ever-evolving negotiation.

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12 Holding Out Hope for the Creedence: Music and the Search for the Real Thing in The Big Lebowski

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Diane Pecknold

Midway through The Big Lebowski, a hapless Dude—having substituted Walter’s phony “ringer” (a bag full of underwear) for Lebowski’s briefcase full of money in delivering ransom to a group of apparent kidnappers—contacts the police to report that his car, with the briefcase and his Creedence Clearwater Revival tapes inside, has been stolen. When he wanly asks whether the police often recover such stolen cars, one of the cops replies, “Sometimes. Wouldn’t hold out much hope for the tape deck, though.” “Or the Creedence,” adds a second cop derisively, suspiciously twiddling the Dude’s bowling-pin-shaped one-hitter between his fingers.

The scene aptly summarizes the pervasive flux between ersatz and authentic that underpins the narrative of the film. The real briefcase, of course, turns out to have been a fake itself. The lost Bunny turns out not to have been lost to the kidnappers at all, and in fact not even to be named Bunny Lebowski, but Fawn Knutsen. And maybe she has been lost after all, since her parents are looking for her. The accumulation of real objects that turn out to be fake, and fake ones that turn out to be real, though never in the way we are led to expect, is the central device of the film’s noir plot. Appropriately, it is within this dizzying array of inauthentic objects of yearning that “the Creedence” is introduced, not just as the music we have heard playing in the car during the ransom payoff, but as a recurring point of identification for the Dude.

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Chapter Eight On Mother’s Side: the Yochels and the Nadels

Samuel S. Bak Indiana University Press ePub
Medium 9780253015754

4. When Stars Collide: Lady Gaga and the Pirating of a Globalized Persona

Noah A. Tsika Indiana University Press ePub

4

Despite Tonto Dikeh’s boastful claims of complete autonomy, star-making remains a collaborative process. So, of course, do attempts to dramatize individual star personae. In 2011, several of the talents behind the BlackBerry Babes trilogy reunited for a project called Lady Gaga.1 As he had done with film pitches dating back to the days of The Celebrity, Sylvester Obadigie wrote a treatment—a prose story that would serve as the basis of a screenplay; Ubong Bassey Nya, who would eventually pen that screenplay, signed on to direct; and Oge Okoye, who had played Damisa in BlackBerry Babes and Return of BlackBerry Babes, signed on to star. The celebrated trio was back—only this time they were committed to cribbing from the life of Lady Gaga. Knowing that they would need not only trusted colleagues but also the kind whose talents could turn a black Nigerian woman into a walking reference to a white American music star, they enlisted three key people: make-up artist Matthew Alechenu, who had helped Eniola Badmus transform into a glamorous, lipstick-loving city girl in the BlackBerry Babes trilogy; costumier Ogo Okechi, who had designed and supplied that trilogy’s trendy dresses; and Austine Erowele, whose thematically relevant song “BlackBerry Babes” had given the three films a further, jaunty self-reflexivity. Together, these six collaborators would generate a melodrama about the fine line between piracy and fair use—a four-part film about a globalizing media phenomenon that both supports and subverts that phenomenon, in inimitable Nollywood fashion.

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Medium 9780253007414

11. Frank McEwen and Joram Mariga: Patron and Artist in the Rhodesian Workshop School Setting, Zimbabwe

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Elizabeth Morton

The Rhodesian Workshop School, in existence from the late 1950s until 1973, is one of the best-known African workshops. Its key patron, the British-born aesthete Frank McEwen, is a prominent figure in African art history who has been credited with spurring the growth of stone sculpture in Zimbabwe. With a host of talented artists—such as Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Joseph Ndandarika, Sylvester Mubayi, Henry Munyaradzi, and Joram Mariga—McEwen was able to mount successful international exhibitions in Paris, London, New York, and elsewhere. McEwen’s departure from Rhodesia in 1973 (combined with the war of independence in the 1970s) left stone sculpture moribund for some years, nevertheless the workshop artists and their successors regained their momentum in the 1980s and 1990s. For the last twenty years Zimbabwean sculptors have ranked among the finest in the world.

Although there is a considerable body of work dealing with McEwen and his workshop, most notably Ben Joosten’s recent monograph (2001), surprisingly little has been written about the dynamics of the Rhodesian Workshop School. In fact, most of the scholars investigating the material have relied heavily on McEwen’s own descriptions and have not looked beneath the surface to examine the relationships among McEwen and his artists. The result is that they have depended on his chronology as well as his version of events, both of which are not entirely accurate in many cases. An often tense dialectic ran through the workshop. On the one hand there were McEwen’s expectations of what kind of people his artists should be and how they should carve. From the artists’ perspective, the problem was how to obtain McEwen’s support even if they did not fit into his preferred profile.

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Medium 9780253009036

8 White Power, Black Power, and the 1968 Olympic Protests

Daniel J Sherman Indiana University Press ePub

MARTIN A. BERGER

In October 1968 the Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos staged a protest that became an icon of 1960s America (figure 8.1). After placing first and third, respectively, in the Olympic men’s 200-meter race in Mexico City, each man mounted the medal stand with an “Olympic Project for Human Rights” button pinned to his track jacket, black socks displayed prominently by shoeless feet and rolled pant legs, and a single black glove. After receiving their medals, the men pivoted toward the rising flags and, as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played, raised black-gloved fists in the air and lowered their heads. As the pair stood motionless on the stand, the scene was captured in black and white by press photographers and in color by television journalists and quickly circulated around the world. The next day, Smith explained his intentions in a television interview with the sports reporter Howard Cosell: “The right glove that I wore on my right hand signified the power within black America. The left glove my teammate John Carlos wore on his left hand made an arc with my right hand and his left hand also to signify black unity. . . . John Carlos and me wore socks, black socks, without shoes, to also signify our poverty.”1

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14 LebowskIcons: The Rug, The Iron Lung, The Tiki Bar, and Busby Berkeley

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Dennis Hall & Susan Grove Hall

The Big Lebowski is full of the kinds of images that are popularly called icons. The film not only places these in our view, but also shows them in dimensions and relationships that are new to us. What are these icons? The term is now used so commonly, especially for celebrities, that it might seem without meaning. In several years of studying icons in popular culture, though, we have found the term difficult to define because it has deep and pervasive influences beyond our usual perceptions. In preparing American Icons: An Encyclopedia of the People, Places, and Things That Have Shaped Our Culture, we identified several common features of icons.

An icon often generates strong responses; people identify with it, or against it; and the differences often reflect generational differences. Marilyn Monroe, for instance, carries meanings distinctly different for people who are in their teens and twenties than for people in their sixties and older. An icon stands for a group of related things and values. John Wayne, for example, images the cowboy and traditional masculinity, among many other associations, including conservative politics. An icon commonly has roots in historical sources, as various as folk culture, science, and commerce, often changing over time and reflecting present events or forces. The log cabin, for example, has endured as an influential American icon, with meanings and associations evolving from our colonial past through the present.

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Medium 9780253349118

9. Assembling Bangle Sets

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

BANGLESWORN on the wrists as a sign of the married estate—are the most common item of ornamentation in India. One of the best-known examples of ancient Indian art is a small bronze statue of a “dancing girl” from Mohenjodaro (2200–1800 BC); she is naked except for a necklace and twenty-nine bangles.1 Women often cite this metal statue to illustrate the continual importance of bangles among Indian people. Banaras is, along with Jaipur and Calcutta, famous for the wide variety of bangles available for sale, mostly in the Vishvanath Gali. The sellers of bangles are more like the sellers of imitation jewelry than they are like purveyors of expensive silver and gold. Bangles are cheap, ephemeral items frequently bought “for fashion.” But as this chapter will demonstrate, there is a special skill to the selling of bangles. Bangles are generally bought in combinations or sets that are assembled by talented salesmen. The art of bangle selling involves combining bangles of different widths, styles, colors, and materials into a coherent and dazzling unit.

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4 Metonymic Hats and Metaphoric Tumbleweeds: Noir Literary Aesthetics in Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Christopher Raczkowski

In his important study of film noir More Than Night, James Naremore argues for a rethinking of noir in terms of discourse, as “an evolving system of arguments and readings that helps to shape commercial and aesthetic ideologies” and, as Naremore goes on to elaborate, political ideologies (11). In other words, noir is less a set of formalized cinematic gestures—visual styles and narrative procedures—than a cultural strategy that resonates across multiple artistic, commercial, and intellectual forms. Thinking noir as Naremore does, as discourse rather than genre, provides an answer for a question that has vexed me for some time about Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski: can this movie be meaningfully grouped with Miller’s Crossing (1990) as a noir text? Certainly, both draw inspiration from the well of classic Hollywood noir films; indeed, the movies are frequently referred to as the first two installments of the Coens’ “noir trilogy.” And, yet, they are jarringly antithetical in look and feel. It is this gap between the noir aesthetics of Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski that interests me the most and animates the analysis that follows. The virtue of Naremore’s definition is that it treats relations between noirish texts as dynamic rather than categorical and restrictive; only such a protean and yet tactical conception of noir will do for making sense of the complex relation of Miller’s Crossing and The Big Lebowski. While commentators tend to ignore the aesthetic divide between these movies or reject the proposition that The Big Lebowski can be sensibly grouped with other noir films at all, I argue that the tension is fertile and productive of a noir dialectic evolved by the Coens in the two movies.

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Medium 9780253011596

6: Independent Painting while Teaching 1905–1923

Rachel Berenson Perry Indiana University Press ePub

1905–1923

FOLLOWING HIS NOTABLE LOUISIANA PURCHASE Exposition awards, Forsyth successfully sold a few landscapes, including On the Kentucky River and a couple of paintings displayed at the Lieber Galleries. In early 1906 the Louis Katz Art Gallery in New York City wrote, wishing to negotiate an agreement to sell some of his work.1

William Forsyth ca. 1907,
Indiana Historical Society, M0691.

Along with improving sales, Forsyth consistently donated or partially donated paintings to schools, including the Bluffton Public School, Garfield Public School in Richmond, Gary Public Schools, and Manual Training School in Indianapolis. He also gifted paintings to various organizations and individuals, such as the Orphans’ Asylum, the Art Association of Indianapolis, and James Whitcomb Riley (who was ill), and to celebrate marriages and anniversaries. For his seasonal excursion in 1905, Forsyth returned to Martinsville in August, then moved due east about thirty-five miles to Waldron, in Shelby County, to sketch and paint colorful foliage.2

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3 · Histories Made by Bodies

Allen F. Roberts Indiana University Press ePub

We must be prepared to experience the figure, severed and whole, in its severing and its dance: to inhabit it, rigid and fleeting, violent and happy, blood and spirit, horror and promise.

—JULIA KRISTEVA, THE SEVERED HEAD

Because of the strength of Lusinga’s forces, Storms felt obliged to wait until his troops could be bolstered by those of Paul Reichard before attacking the chief’s mountain fastness in early December 1884. He then added men from local chiefs who were loyal to him so that he could deploy over a hundred warriors for the expedition. Kizumina offered a different description of Bwana Boma’s force, saying that only eight “soldiers” (askari in Swahili, presumably wangwana and rugaruga) bearing carbines were joined by twenty men mustered by Sultani Mpala, including Kizumina’s own older brother. Kizumina emphasized wiles rather than numbers, and, as we shall see, arcana and spiritual agency seem to have been very much on the old man’s mind when he stressed the men’s singing, and—especially—the dance that accompanied the foray, as important technologies of warfare.

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17 Abiding (as) Animal: Marmot, Pomeranian, Whale, Dude

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

David Pagano

Non-human animals do not get much screen time in The Big Lebowski. We do see two domestic, misnamed mammals, one that Walter calls a Pomeranian and another that the Dude calls a marmot, but they are onscreen for only seconds. Other animals appear even less prominently, but before the film is over we hear the songs of humpback whales and the cries of seagulls, encounter a woman named Bunny, and apprehend references to bears, camels, walruses, steers, and pigs (in a blanket). It seems, then, that though they are not often visible in the film, animals manage to leave their tracks or traces in the possibilities of meaning that the movie generates. The question is, can we follow those tracks, master these traces, or do they constitute too many strands to keep in our heads? A little of both, I suggest: animals are an essential component of the Dude’s journey or anti-journey, but because they speak insistently to the question of language in the film—more specifically, the question of how or whether language can cross boundaries and establish communication—they must to a certain extent escape our snares. In a word, in this film, animals abide, both with and within the Dude and his friends. Although I do not have time to address all of the species cited in the film, I show that animality, if there is such a thing, is a central concern for the Dude and for the human comedy he inhabits.

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