above: broom straw and chili to keep the thieves away
Via my stats, I came across a post entitled “Is There an Aesthetics of Broken Things?” written by Tom Leddy, author of The Extraordinary in the Ordinary: The Aesthetics of Everyday Life .
Years ago, I became fixated with the idea of Daily Aesthetics . Beauty comes everyday not just on special occasions and thus was happy to find out about Leddy. But, thanks to Leddy, I was even happier to discover David Doris and his book Vigilant Things: On Thieves, Yoruba Anti-Aesthetics, and the Strange Fates of Ordinary Objects in Nigeria.
Doris use to play in a band called Raunch Hands but gave up playing when he discovered African Art. Mesmerized by aale, objects made of found materials that act as talismans to protect one’s property, Doris even learned the Yoruba language of Nigeria just to study this phenomena in depth.
David Doris, Rocker turned African art expert
In Vigilant Things, David T. Doris argues that aale are keys to understanding how images function in Yoruba social and cultural life. The humble, often degraded objects that comprise aale reveal as eloquently as any canonical artwork the channels of power that underlie the surfaces of the visible. Aale are warnings, intended to trigger the work of conscience. Aale objects symbolically threaten suffering as the consequence of transgression–the suffering of disease, loss, barrenness, paralysis, accident, madness, fruitless labor, or death–and as such are often the useless residues of things that were once positively valued: empty snail shells, shards of pottery, fragments of rusted iron, and the like. If these objects share “suffering” and “uselessness” as constitutive elements, it is because they already have been made to suffer and become useless. Aale offer thieves, regarded as “useless” people, an opportunity to recognize themselves in advance of their actions, to see what they will become.
I want this book!
More Yoruba Culture related info:
YORUBA VEST 1, Nigeria (this vest is so exciting!)
In this “divination container,” notice the emphasis placed on the head, which, in Yoruba culture, contains an individual’s life force. Courtesy High Museum of Art
Yoruba Egungun Costume (This reminds me in a way of Sarah Rahbar’s FLAGS)
African Yoruba beaded dance ceremony cape + West African Gbo “fetish priest” in batakari jacket adorned with “gris-gris” amulets/talismans, in Hoodoo + Talismanic Shirt + West African Hunter’s Shirt with amulets, Mali
Diviner’s Bag (apo Ifa) + Yoruba Ifa Beaded Bag + YORUBA DIVINER’S BAG 18, NIGERIA + YORUBA DIVINER’S BAG 17, NIGERIA + YORUBA DIVINER’S BAG 27, NIGERIA + Yoruba Beaded Leather Diviner’s Bag + Some Old Bags! +
tribal chair (more great fotos here)