Broken beauty.

Vigilant Things

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

David Doris, Rocker turned African art expert

vigilant things

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 talisman vest

YORUBA VEST 1, Nigeria (this vest is so exciting!)

another yoruba vesttalisman foto + amulets, talismans, symbols on pinterest + irini gonou, “talismans”

yoruba art

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

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

yoruba pouch

Ifa Pouch

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

tribal chair (more great fotos here)

yoruba beaded chair + and yet another beaded chair +

drawingp.s.   Anthropology and Aesthetics reference to aale + pdf on African studies, scroll down to page 138 to read more about Doris and aale

About Art for Housewives

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8 Responses to Broken beauty.

  1. jo Quirk says:

    There is so much to take in and be intoxicated by in this article Cynthia. And I didn’t know I wanted the book also until you pointed it out! I love to have my thinking tipped on its head.

    • Can’t wait to order and RECEIVE this book. If you read it,let me know what you think about it..I love the idea of making the world magical! At first I thought the 21st cake foto on your blog was made of ceramics….a glazed clay cake would be fun, no?

  2. jo Quirk says:

    Cake was fun to eat and make with 7 bars of dark chocolate and now I am pleased to say I have the memory and photo. I have seen a lot of student ceramic cup cakes this year and they will persist in the universe for a long time so I’m not with you on a glazed cake unless it was a container! On mending-check this out for magic Legend has it in my family that some great grandmother or someone sewed her spouses finger back on with a darning needle after dabbing both ends in soot and wrapping it in cobwebs. Apparently the black line remained forever.

  3. What can I say–never underestimate the power of needle and thread?
    Didn’t know about the ceramic cupcake craze–just googled it. But they do look dELiCiOuS! The cake on your blog was so beautiful it would have been wonderful to have it around forever!

  4. Pingback: Irini Gonou and magical writing. | art for housewives

  5. ounoginiri says:

    very interesting the aale concept!
    thank you cynthia!

  6. Pingback: Rocket Man | the photogenic lifestyle of cynthia korzekwa

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