Daily Archives: November 26, 2020

Portrait of the King of Benin, Oba Ovonramwen, 1897 | The British Museum

The British Museum

Object Type
photographic print
Museum number
Af,A47.70
Description
Portrait of the King of Benin, Oba Ovonramwen, seated in a wicker chair with three soldiers standing beside and behind him. The Oba is wearing a velvet gown, and his feet are shackled together with chains. Soldiers wear uniforms; head-gear, short trousers, belts, jackets. Holding bayonets. Male at left and centre wearing medals.
Albumen print.
Producer name
Photographed by: Jonathan A Green
Production date
1897
Production place
Made in: Benin City (near)
Africa: sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria: Edo State: Benin City
Technique
photographic process
Dimensions
Length: 20.82 centimetres
Width: 14 centimetres
Inscriptions

Inscription type: annotation
Inscription content: Album Title: “1st BENIN. WARRI. & SAPELE. 2nd NEW CALABAR. BONNY. OPOBO & QUA COUNTRY.” [manuscript note on album paper]. Original Description: “King of Benin” [manuscript note on album paper]; “J. A. Green, Artist Photographer Bonny, Opobo, &c. &c” [stamp on back of
print].

Curator’s comments
Photograph taken on board the S. S. Ivy, a British Government vessel, as the Oba was exiled and sent to Old Calabar in eastern Nigeria. The soldiers are British trained members of the Niger Coast Protectorate force. See F S Kaplan, History in Africa 18 (1991), pp.207-212. Some information provided by N F Barley, 04/06/1996.

Albums Af,A46 and Af,A47 were…

Bibliographic references
Kaplan 1991 (p 208 [image published])
Anderson and Aronson 2017 / African Photographer J.A.Green: reimagining the Indigenous and the Colonial (p.164, pl.7)
Location
Not on display
Exhibition history
Exhibited:

2015-2016 25 Nov-10 Apr, London, Tate Britain, Artist and Empire
Subjects
costume/clothing
boat/ship
prisoner
war
arms/armour
garment
soldier
king/queen
punishment
Associated names
Associated with: Oba Ovonramwen, King of Benin
Previous owner
Previous owner/ex-collection: Arthur Henry Prest
Acquisition date
1920-1960
Acquisition notes
Copyright: British Museum (?).
Department
Africa, Oceania and the Americas
Registration number
Af,A47.70

African Photographer J. A. Green: Reimagining the Indigenous and the Colonial (African Expressive Cultures): Martha G. Anderson, Lisa Aronson,, Christraud M. Geary, Tam Fiofori, Ebiegberi Joe Alagoa

J. A. Green (1873–1905) was one of the most prolific and accomplished indigenous photographers to be active in West Africa. This beautiful book celebrates Green’s photographs and opens a new chapter in the early photographic history of Africa. Soon after photography reached the west coast of Africa in the 1840s, the technology and the resultant images were disseminated widely, appealing to African elites, European residents, and travelers to the region. Responding to the need for more photographs, expatriate and indigenous photographers began working along the coasts, particularly in major harbor towns.

Green, whose identity remained hidden behind his English surname, maintained a photography business in Bonny along the Niger Delta. His work covered a wide range of themes including portraiture, scenes of daily and ritual life, commerce, and building. Martha G. Anderson, Lisa Aronson, and the contributors have uncovered 350 of Green’s images in archives, publications, and even albums that celebrated colonial achievements. This landmark book unifies these dispersed images and presents a history of the photographer and the area in which he worked.

Review

“[Green] practiced for only 14 years but the legacy of pictorial history that he created has been given proper focus by the impeccable, collaborative research and interpretative conceptualism of this volume of essays and commentaries edited with guidance from Prof. Alagoa.

The Guardian

“The publication of the book in 2017 has effectively peeled the layer of anonymity from Mr. Green who’s work was published in leading publications across the world but who remained largely unknown for decades. . . This landmark book unifies these dispersed photographic images of Jonathan Adagogo Green and presents a history of the photographer and the area and times in which he worked.”

Premium Times

Apart from bringing to light one of Africa’s underexposed photographers, this much-needed volume offers profoundly generative theoretical frameworks for considering the roles photography has played both on and off the continent in the colonial period and beyond.

African Arts

The pioneering role of J. A. (Jonathan Adagogo) Green’s photographic artistry is painstakingly resurrected and perceptively examined in this magisterial study, beautifully produced in large format by the Indiana University Press.

Journal of Folklore Research

Review

J. A. Green worked for colonials and locals in the Niger Delta circa 1891–1905. His images circulated regionally and internationally for 100 years, but his name and African identity had fallen into obscurity―until this beautifully illustrated and authoritative book. It thoroughly documents Green’s photography, considers it through multiple frames of analysis, and challenges simplistic notions of a “colonial gaze.”

  • ISBN-10 : 0253028957
  • Paperback : 400 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0253028952
  • Dimensions : 8.5 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Publisher : Indiana University Press; Illustrated edition (October 16, 2017)

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Living at peace with the land | Eveline MacDougall | The Recorder

By EVELINE MacDOUGALL
For the Recorder

Published: 11/24/2020 1:38:16 PM

Les and Susie Patlove at home in Charlemont. Contributed photo/Gillis MacDougall

During our unprecedented era, in a season of giving thanks, a visit to the home of Les and Susie Patlove offers a chance to shift gears. On a dead-end Charlemont road, serenity and mindfulness blossom.

Past the garden sits a small building with clean lines, built years ago to accommodate a teen’s need for extra space, and later converted to a workshop for the resident furniture maker. Les has retired from woodworking but retains broad knowledge about the beauty and mechanics of his craft.

Behind the their cozy home, chickens cluck near a wood pile. Three solar panels boost hot showers, supplementing a 30-gallon copper tank connected to their woodstove.

Symmetry abounds without fanfare in the main living quarters, the front door leading to a 16-by-24-foot room with the kitchen on the left and living room to the right. Colorful houseplants tended by Susie and Shaker-style furniture made by Les sit beneath handsome hewn beams and mortise-and-tenon joinery, lending an air of solidity and grace.

The Patloves’ parlor contains plants tended by Susie and furniture made by Les. Contributed photo/Gillis MacDougal

A kettle hisses comfortingly atop the woodstove and the fragrance of freshly ground grain draws the eye to an impressive grinder, next to a tiny basket holding three fresh eggs. An adjoining hallway is decorated with herbs hanging upside-down, destined for mugs of steaming tea: nettles, bee balm, tulsi holy basil. Garlic braids, too, adorn the hallway.

George, the ink-black cat, enters daintily on snow-white feet. The kitchen faucet dispenses clear well water and homegrown vegetables garnish countertops.The window above the sink opens onto a greenhouse where geraniums, swiss chard and butternut squash provide a yummy palette of colors. The view out the greenhouse glass reveals a meadow, treeline and mountain.

Originally built to provide additional space for teens, this small post-and-beam building became a workshop for Les Patlove. Contributed photo/Gillis MacDougall

A custom-built bookcase reflects a wide variety of interests: apple trees, mushroom identification, ginseng, natural pest control, wildflowers. Titles like “Five Acres and Independence” share a shelf with “Feasting Free on Wild Edibles” and “Living More on Less,” as well as books about birds, bonsai, natural healing and the agricultural treasures of chicken manure. A massive red volume stands out: an encyclopedia of music.

A small bathroom contains a flush toilet, recently installed to replace a longtime composting toilet — one concession to advancing age. The last of autumn’s colorful fresh flowers, along with muted dried ones, brighten each room, including the loo.

One section of the Patlove’s compact cellar has a concrete floor, while the root cellar area has a stone floor, allowing for higher moisture levels. Root crops winter over, to be incorporated into soups and stews.

The Patloves grow food year round in their greenhouse. Contributed photo/Gillis MacDougall

Les, 77, and Susie, 73, have been together for over 50 years, most of them on what’s known as Windy Hill, an 80-acre enclave established as an intentional community. Of several households, five residents of the original group remain. Other founders moved on, replaced by folks who share their love of the land and cooperation.

“We designed our community so that our homes are close to each other, so most of our land can remain undeveloped,” Susie says. “I feel like the land is responsible for our success.”

“The land has shaped us more than we’ve shaped the land,” remarks Les. “Our first love here was the landscape, the wildlife, so much beauty. I don’t think I’ve taken it all in yet.”

Drawing a connection to their community’s longevity, Susie muses, “People ask why this community has lasted. I think it has something to do with the mountain, and streams coming down. It’s like living in a magnificent bowl. It’s humbling to live in such beauty.”

Les built their home in 1973 — originally as an ell to the community’s farmhouse — and moved it to its current spot in 1978. “I modeled it after one-room schoolhouses popular in this region,” he explains. “What’s now our parlor,” he says, gesturing through a doorway, “used to be my workshop, so I added our home onto that.”

A glimpse into the parlor reveals more gorgeous hand-built furniture, another riot of houseplants, an ancient sewing machine and a turntable for jazz, folk, and classical records. “Les hand-split the red oak shakes that cover this room’s roof,” Susie says admiringly. Nodding, Les adds, “I used a froe,” referring to a hand tool.

The Patloves’ home in Charlemont. Contributed photo/Gillis MacDougall

Born in Brooklyn, Les says, “It never crossed my mind as a child that I’d live like this.” Glancing fondly at his mate, he adds, “Susie was the motivator. She always wanted to grow all her own food. And she’s good at it. The closest I got to a garden in Brooklyn was the one belonging to our Italian landlord. He grew tomato plants and peach and plum trees. That seemed fine, but I never thought it would have anything to do with me.”

In addition to her horticulture prowess, Susie, who grew up in Hingham, is a published and prize-winning poet. She’s also worked as a librarian and pre-school teacher, among other forms of paid employment in order to support her homesteading urges.

Les is known as “the guy with the French horn,” referring to his years in local ensembles. The couple’s skills and talents seem endless, but perhaps it’s their shared practice of Zen Buddhism over five decades that provides the most significant unifying theme. “We got into Buddhism together after college,” Les explains. He had studied sciences, and she, Chinese history.

Reflecting on the experience of raising children in community, Susie says, “Of course there were struggles, but we all had lots of support. I’m grateful that the kids who grew up here had extra parents. I think it worked well.”

The Patloves’ three grown sons live geographically distant from their parents and each other, but remain close. Will, 43, is the nearest, living with his wife, Katie, in Burlington, where he works for a wine distributor and pursues his love of visual art. Several of his pieces hang on his parents’ walls.

When asked about growing up in a homesteading family, Will says, “I have a belief that I can do things myself, a sense of self-reliance that permeates my life. My parents rarely called in plumbers, electricians, or carpenters. It was taken for granted that we did those things ourselves. Self-reliance now extends to all aspects of my life, from relationships to artistic endeavors and spirituality. It’s an understanding that I’m responsible for my experience and that, yes, I can fix the fuel pump in my car.”

Younger brother Sam, 39, runs Bud’s Recording Services, a studio in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Gloria, and their 3-year-old son, Arlo. Photos of Arlo adorn his grandparents’ fridge and walls, his shining eyes and chubby cheeks imparting as much warmth as the woodstove during a time when the toddler is unable, due to pandemic risks, to visit Western Massachusetts.

“We took full advantage of all the fun that could be had on 80 acres,” Sam says of his early life. “It gave me a strong connection with nature, which I carry to this day, along with an appreciation for the taste and nutrition of high quality food and an understanding of hard work and chores, among many other things.”

Sam admits there were challenges. “I think our parents, in their rejection of society’s standard path of trying to accumulate monetary wealth, left me with some baggage. Maybe there was an assumption that we would live as they did. It’s a minor thing, though, and I’m grateful for the perspectives that led me to where I am. Even though I desire more financial stability than my parents did, I also understand the value of things that financial markets have traditionally struggled to put a price tag on, whether it’s music, art, or a 300-year-old tree.”

Eldest brother Silas, 46, is a physician’s assistant in emergency medicine living in Oakland, Calif., as well as a semi-professional clarinetist. His father beams in recalling, “Some of my fondest memories are of playing in musical ensembles with Silas.” The family also benefits from medical information shared by Silas during the pandemic.

The family looks forward to a time when they can reunite, but until then, they make do with other forms of contact, knowing they’re in the same boat with people the world over. In the meantime, Les and Susie bring in the firewood, share a new book about trees, and enjoy the view.

“We’re growing old together,” Susie says. “We’ve gone through intense things since our twenties. I don’t want to idealize it, because some things were hard. But living in community — having people who can help, and who we can also help — that’s a real gift.”

It’s a story of harmony: his music, her poetry, his creations from wood, her green thumb. In a lovely spot, peace is allowed to flourish.

Eveline MacDougall, who has lived in Franklin County since 1987, started Greenfield’s Pleasant Street Community Garden in 1999. She coordinated the community garden for about 15 years and is now a member of the current project, but no longer serves in a leadership position.

French and Indian War: A History From Beginning to End (Native American History): Hourly History

The French and Indian War is one of the most significant, yet least acknowledged and understood, periods of American history. Fought chiefly between the two imperial powers of England and France in the mid-18th century, the struggle would also draw in native Indian nations who sought to exert their own strength and sovereignty over the North American continent.

Inside you will read about…

✓ Imperial Appetites
✓ Sparks Ignite
✓ Rumours of War
✓ Pitt Rising
✓ The Montcalm Before the Storm
✓ Fortresses Fall
✓ From the Plains of Abraham to Peace

From the first shots fired in the Ohio Valley wilderness in 1754 until the Treaty of Paris signed in 1763, the French and Indian War became a conflict that encircled the globe, drawing in nation after nation and inciting battles from the Caribbean to the Philippines. This book tells the story of this mighty struggle and how its outcome ultimately laid the foundations for the modern world we inhabit today.

Native American History: A History from Beginning to End: Hourly History

Until surprisingly recently, most history books noted that America was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. The truth was that by the time that Columbus arrived in America, people had been living there for more than 12,000 years. During this time, the indigenous people of North America lived without contact with other continents. Different groups developed separate and distinct ways of life, cultures, and societies but all shared one common characteristic: they relied on the land to provide them with food, and they developed a series of religions that, while separate, shared a respect for nature and imbued many animals and natural features with spiritual characteristics. These beliefs, combined with the fact that most of these societies were relatively primitive compared to those emerging in other parts of the world, meant that the Native Americans were able to live in harmony with the natural world. These people had sophisticated and complex belief systems, but they built no cities, no wheeled vehicles, and developed nothing beyond the most basic written language. Although many millions of people lived in North America, their impact on the landscape and the natural systems was minimal.
Then, abruptly, white settlers arrived, bringing with them new technologies and weapons, new religions, and an indifference towards nature. They also brought with them diseases to which the Native Americans had never before been exposed. Within two hundred years, the Native American population dwindled to a fraction of what it had been; the survivors were herded onto reservations on which they could not follow their traditional ways of life and where they were denied the most basic human rights.

Inside you will read about…

✓ The Emergence of Native American Peoples and Cultures
✓ Life before the White Men
✓ European Settlers Arrive
✓ Early Wars in America
✓ American Expansion
✓ Ghost Dancing and the Wounded Knee Massacre
And much more!

Only in the twentieth century did the population of Native American people begin to recover, and only then did the general population of America begin to regard these cultured and sophisticated people as anything but savages. This is the story of the gradual rise, sudden destruction, and slow recovery of the native people of North America.

Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara: Alisa LaGamma

A comprehensive exploration, spanning 1,300 years, of the art and culture of the Sahel region of Africa

This groundbreaking volume examines the extraordinary artistic and cultural traditions of the African region known as the Sahel (“shore” in Arabic), a vast area on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert that includes present-day Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Chad. This is the first book to present a comprehensive overview of the diverse cultural achievements and traditions of the region, spanning more than 1,300 years from the pre-Islamic period through the 19th century. It features some of the earliest extant art from Africa as well as such iconic works as sculptures by the Dogon and Bamana peoples of Mali.

Essays by leading international scholars discuss the art, architecture, archaeology, literature, philosophy, religion, and history of the Sahel, exploring the unique cultural landscape in which these ancient communities flourished. Richly illustrated and brilliantly argued, Sahel brings to life the enduring creativity of the different peoples who lived, traded, and traveled through this crossroads of the world.

About the Author

Alisa LaGamma is Ceil and Michael E. Pulitzer Curator in Charge in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  • Item Weight : 3.88 pounds
  • Hardcover : 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1588396878
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1588396877
  • Dimensions : 9.3 x 1.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Publisher : Metropolitan Museum of Art (February 18, 2020)

Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa: Kathleen Bickford Berzock

How West African gold and trade across the Sahara were central to the medieval world

The Sahara Desert was a thriving crossroads of exchange for West Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe in the medieval period. Fueling this exchange was West African gold, prized for its purity and used for minting currencies and adorning luxury objects such as jewelry, textiles, and religious objects. Caravans made the arduous journey by camel southward across the Sahara carrying goods for trade―glass vessels and beads, glazed ceramics, copper, books, and foodstuffs, including salt, which was obtained in the middle of the desert. Northward, the journey brought not only gold but also ivory, animal hides and leatherwork, spices, and captives from West Africa forced into slavery.

Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time draws on the latest archaeological discoveries and art historical research to construct a compelling look at medieval trans-Saharan exchange and its legacy. Contributors from diverse disciplines present case studies that form a rich portrayal of a distant time. Topics include descriptions of key medieval cities around the Sahara; networks of exchange that contributed to the circulation of gold, copper, and ivory and their associated art forms; and medieval glass bead production in West Africa’s forest region. The volume also reflects on Morocco’s Gnawa material culture, associated with descendants of West African slaves, and movements of people across the Sahara today.

Featuring a wealth of color images, this fascinating book demonstrates how the rootedness of place, culture, and tradition is closely tied to the circulation of people, objects, and ideas. These “fragments in time” offer irrefutable evidence of the key role that Africa played in medieval history and promote a new understanding of the past and the present.

Published in association with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

Exhibition Schedule
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University
January 26–July 21, 2019

Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
September 21, 2019–February 23, 2020

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC
April 8–November 29, 2020

Review

“Winner of a Catalogue Curatorial Award for Excellence, Association of Art Museum Curators”

“[Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time] argues [that] the desert has always been not just permeable but heavily trafficked, much like the ocean, with trade as well as religions and cultural influences traveling back and forth, and with world-shaping effects. Part of the difficulty in conveying the importance of this region’s history has been its paucity of documentation. . . . [The] catalog make[s] up for this spectacularly with [its] display of the region’s legacy of artifacts, from pottery shards to sculpture and gold weights and coins.”—Howard W. French, New York Review of Books

“Finalist for the PROSE Award in Art Exhibitions, Association of American Publishers”

“Shortlisted for the Alice Award, Furthermore grants in publishing”

“[A] richly illustrated tome comprising nineteen essays, underscores the magnitude of Africa’s influence on both the medieval world and the continued cultural expression in this region today . . . the depth of research is astounding.”—Elizabeth Perrill, CAA Reviews

The best museums and exhibitions ask us to rethink what we think we know. Caravans of Gold, Fragments of
Time
. . . reconsiders the story of the medieval West by shifting the viewpoint substantially south, to the Sahara.

—Cammy Brothers, Wall Street Journal

“The book brings together a wealth of scholarly information not otherwise easily available in a single source, making it an extremely valuable resource for teachers and scholars. It is also beautifully produced, written in a clear and straightforward manner, and fairly priced…Caravans of Gold, book and exhibition, achieve the objective of making the history of medieval Africa captivating and accessible to a wide range of people―many who will be unfamiliar with this history. It does so through combining cutting-edge scholarship with beautiful objects.”—Jean M. Borgatti, International Journal of African Historical Studies

“The book is a well-illustrated, well researched companion volume that enlightening reading in its own right.”, Current World Archaeology

Review

Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time features valuable contributions, including recent archaeological research, on various aspects of the trans-Saharan commercial world of northwestern Africa, spanning the longue durée from the earliest markets to contemporary migrations.”―Ghislaine Lydon, author of On Trans-Saharan Trails: Islamic Law, Trade Networks, and Cross-Cultural Exchange in Nineteenth-Century Western Africa

About the Author

Kathleen Bickford Berzock is associate director of curatorial affairs at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. She is the author of For Hearth and Altar: African Ceramics from the Keith Achepohl Collection and the coeditor of Representing Africa in American Art Museums: A Century of Collecting and Display.

  • Item Weight : 4.25 pounds
  • Hardcover : 312 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 069118268X
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0691182681
  • Dimensions : 10.1 x 1.2 x 11.4 inches
  • Publisher : Princeton University Press; Illustrated edition (February 26, 2019)

“Frankenstein’s Monster”: Judge Slams Trump Team’s Efforts to Overturn Ele ction Results

Democracy Now!

Nov 23, 2020

As President Trump’s unprecedented campaign to overturn the results of the presidential election drags on, over two dozen lawsuits filed by his legal team have been dismissed or withdrawn. The Trump team is now focusing on delaying or blocking the certification of the election in several states while trying to toss out votes in cities with large Black populations, including Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta. New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon says the Trump legal team’s efforts have so far lacked real substance, with the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani “treating court as if it’s cable news.” She also says more Republican lawmakers need to stand up against Trump’s attempt to subvert democracy.

GSA Head Will Go Down As One The ‘Great Obstructors’ Of Our Time: Columnist | Morning Joe | MSNBC

MSNBC

Nov 23, 2020

LA Times columnist Virginia Heffernan says Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration, will go down as one of the great ‘obstructors’ of our time. Aired on 11/23/2020.

Barbara Ransby & David Sirota Warn of Close Links Between Biden’s Cabinet Pi cks & Corporate Power

Democracy Now!

Nov 25, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden declared “America is back” this week as he revealed some of the people who will staff his administration in key national security posts, vowing to roll back Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and embrace multilateralism. Among his picks are longtime adviser Tony Blinken for secretary of state, diplomatic veteran Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations, and former Secretary of State John Kerry for a new Cabinet post as climate czar. Historian, author and activist Barbara Ransby says Biden’s picks so far mostly come from the centrist establishment of the Democratic Party and lack progressive voices. “We need people who have compassion, who have accountability to the most vulnerable, who pledge to defend the planet, people who have a clear understanding and commitment to fighting white supremacy and police violence,” says Ransby. We also speak with investigative journalist David Sirota, who says Biden’s picks represent “an attempt to restore the old Washington.” Sirota served as an adviser and speechwriter for Senator Bernie Sanders during his presidential campaign.