The Easel

11th February 2020

Desert Empires: Wonders to Behold

The southern edge of the Sahara, the Sahel, is politically turbulent. It was not always thus. For thousands of years it was a prosperous trading area, a centre of learning and the location of multiple empires. Its art was much more diverse than the tribal art many today associate with Africa. This show affirms “the integrity and complexity, past and present, of something called the Sahel … there is no “typical,” no one style, no one “Africa.”

What Do We Want History to Do to Us?

More on Kara Walker’s monumental fountain, currently in London. What do we want from public art? “To memorialise”. Yes, but memorialise whom, whose history and which memories? “Public art claiming to represent our collective memory is just as often a work of historical erasure and political manipulation. Monuments are complacent; they put a seal upon the past, they release us from dread.”

4th February 2020

Ikebana: The Living Flowers of Japan

Ikebana boasts an ancient lineage but gets scant coverage in English media. This piece, though brief, is thus of interest. Sōfu Teshigahara, a 20th century ikebana master, considered Ikebana as art rather than decoration. He introduced unconventional materials – like scrap metal – blurring the line between ikebana and sculpture. The video referred to in this piece is here (32 min; the second half is the more interesting)