Issue 2012/1-2 (296-297) - Black Antlantic

Maciej Rożalski 3
Paul Gilroy The Black Atlantic as a Counterculture of Modernity 8

This is the first chapter of the as yet not translated book by the English philosopher Paul Gilroy. The proposed conception of the Black Atlantic proved to be one of the most effective and influential theories of recent years, dealing with post-colonialism and the black societies of the region. Gilroy deliberated on a wide gamut of issues spanning from the history and theory of ideas, social and political questions, and values to problems associated with art. According to one of his theses, developed in the book, characteristic features of Black Atlantic cultures included the ability to propose a synthesis of cultural phenomena.

J. Lorand Matory The New World Surrounds an Ocean 37

The text by Lorand Matory concerns the culture of the Afro-Atlantic region and belongs to studies comprising an extensive anthology entitled Afro-Atlantic Dialogues, published by Oxford University Press. The presented creative polemic involves the theory propounded by Paul Gilroy and within reflections on the Afro-Atlantic diaspora discusses the phenomenon of the inter-cultural dialogue.

James Clifford Diasporas 45

The author considers the definition of the concept of the diaspora in a changing and globalised world. In doing so, he focuses on its recent articulation and outlines a map of the application of the concept itself as well as its limits in studies dealing with diasporas, drawing particular attention to the political and historical embroilment of diaspora-oriented discourses. Furthermore, he examines types of experiences described as diasporic and those which are rejected, marginalised and supplanted.

Maciej Rożalski Xirê – Game, Greeting and Joke in the Candomblé Cult 65

The author deals with Afro-Brazilian Candomblé cults and by focusing on the ritual inaugurating the ceremony and known as xirê tackles the question of arbitrariness. Xirê is a moment of transition, the opening of the ritual. Interestingly, it permits uncontrolled behaviour, unforeseen in the order of the ritual. The author asks whether the arbitrariness of activity, the transitory nature of a situation can be the domain of a ritual which is, after all, defined as an innerly ordered and planned process. Seeking an answer, he interprets the principles of Candomblé by comparing them with the game theory in culture, and predominantly concentrates on aspects concerning “movement and counter-movement” as well as tension between elements of the game, constitutive for the very concept of the latter.

Roger Bastide Afro-American Cults 73

The text was written by the legendary researcher studying Candomblé cults. Roger Bastide analysed transformations of African religions in North and South America by applying a wide historical perspective spanning from the slave trade to the emergence of a capitalist class society.

Monique Augras Candomblé of Researchers 83

The author considers the image of the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé cult produced by Ph.D. dissertations and articles by researchers who for almost a century have been dealing with Brazilian religions of African origin. Starting with the basic texts by Roger Bastide the author is interested in analysing the contribution made by successive scientific publications to the emergence of an academic image of Candomblé, at times distant from analysed reality. He is also concerned with the preservation of the authenticity and integrity of the analysed rituals subjected to the constant impact of university studies.

Jocélio Teles The Candomblé Cult in the State of Bahia during the Twenty First Century 91

Jocélio Teles is the head of Centro Estudos Afro Orientais (CEAO) in Salvador (Brazil), an institution dealing basically with research and publications concerning anthropological studies and writings on Afro-Brazilian culture. The presented text is an excerpt of a publication in which researchers working for CEAO proposed the first large-scale description of terreiros Candomblé, together with a presentation of the types and quantitative relations of Afro-Brazilian cults in the state of Bahia.

Livio Sansone Sugar, Oil and the Black Atlantic 95

A presentation of dependencies affecting the traditional culture of northeast Brazil from the viewpoint of economic transformations in the region. The author focused on sugar cane produced in the state of Bahia and relatively recently exploited oil, analysing theway in which those two global commodities are linked with the construction of the identity of the black and white communities in Brazil. By comparing two ways of life moulded by different communities, he recalls the Gilroyan Black Atlantic theory envisaged as a method for interpreting the circulation of the ideas of race, black identity and emancipation between Europe, Africa and the New World. The text intends to propose an interpretation linking the impact of the Black Atlantic with a specific colonial style and cultural dictatorship accompanying the global product economy.

Leszek Kolankiewicz Grotowski in a Tangle of Haitian Narrations 107

The limitations and paradoxes of an anthropological discourse are exemplified by narrations concerning Haiti. Here, the point of departure are assorted variants of the autobiography of Amon Frémon, a vodou priest from the village of Cazale in Haiti, inhabited by descendants of Polish Napoleonic-era legionaries; in 1980 he came to Poland and took part in an undertaking of Teatr Źródeł under Jerzy Grotowski. This is an attempt at an intercultural translation of the meaning of Grotowski’s artistic quests into Afro-Haitian concepts, the reader is also introduced to a third component of the comparison: could Frémon have become a Hassidic Jew?

Józef Kwaterko On Vodou Paintings in Haiti 118

The article reveals the transcultural dimension of vodou painting in Haiti as a tangible example of the syncretism of cultures and religions in the New World, whose beginnings go back to slavery. The first part discusses the social origin of the titular painting connected with the vodou cult and rites as well as its first institutional foundation – Centre d’Art established in 1944 in Port-au-Prince and the outright explosion of works by naive painters inspired by Afro-Christian symbolic and references to the world of pre-Columbian Indians. The second part shows the formal evolution and poly-functionality of vodou painting upon the example of artists originating from the Saint-Soleil group created in the 1970s. Selected iconography makes it possible to capture new thematic-formal quests, which evade purely religious imagery. More, they demonstrate how ludic features and the subversion potential immanent for the vodou cosmogony are translated into a painter’s individual language decisive for his personal interpretation of the sacrum.

Olga Stanisławska A Year After. Port-au-Prince, January 2011 125

A reportage about the situation on Haiti after the tragic earthquake of January 2011, which levelled all symbols of power. Ministries, tribunals, UN Armed Forces and police headquarters, two cathedrals – all tumbled. The tragedy affected everyone. People, however, rapidly abandoned hope that the cataclysm would be followed by a great reshuffling of cards, a radical transformation of the prevailing system, and that a new and better Haiti would arise out of the rubble. On the anniversary of the earthquake, 800 000 people still lived in tents deprived of water and electricity. Having filmed the official ceremonies, television crews from all over the world switched off their equipment and left.

Sławomir Sikora Rouch’s Africa. Mimicry – Subjectivity – Agency 134

Jean Rouch (d. 2004) is regarded as one of the most important filmmakers-anthropologists active for more than half a century. His works have become the theme of assorted thorough assessments. The presented text attempts to refer to a part of his variegated oeuvre and shows (also via the film) Rouch’s relations with his friends and co-workers. From a certain perspective it can be said that owing to the critical reaction to his first important film, Les Maîtres fous (1956), Rouch began to develop assorted strategies of relations involving him (filmmaker and anthropologist) and his protagonists. He favoured their adroitness (agency) but at times symbolically (and theoretically) went over to their side. This took place in particular when Rouch developed the conception of various forms of the trance (ciné-transe) shared by the filmmaker at different stages of shooting a film. Those strategies match well the postulate of the contemporaneity (coevalness) of the researcher and the researched (Johannes Fabien).

Radosław Barc The Harlem Renaissance. Art within the Context of Racial Ideology 148

The 13th Amendment to the United States, enacted by Congress in 1895, crowned almost a century of efforts pursued by adherents of the abolition of slavery. It did not, however, resolve the problems of black Americans and successive decades brought difficult integration in social structures, the necessity of organising life within those structures, and winning an opportunity for education. Only a few enjoyed a chance to study the liberal arts, literature and the fine arts. Those who succeeded and demonstrated special talents were to play a prominent role vis à vis the whole black community. Their art required a deeper justification than the one dictated by classical education.

Following the example of William Edward Burckhardt Dubois and his Souls of Black Folk (1903) Alain Locke perceived its raison d’être in negating the image of black people, enrooted American society, as incapable of expressing higher values. This was the goal of Locke’s whole organisational and publicist activity, with pride of place going to editing The New Negro (1925), a collection of essays by assorted authors turning New York Harlem, the seat of the artistic avant-garde, into a centre of “Black Zionism”. For the new educated generation, which he described as the New Negro, Locke set the objective of “restoring the good name of the black race in the eyes of the world”, while blaming slavery for its loss.

Jacek Jan Pawlik Atlantic Transpositions Representations of Divinities and Spirits inspired by Otherness 163

The encounter with Others has multiple consequences. One of them is the embodiment of Otherness in different forms of cultural representations. On both sides of the Atlantic we find the presence of spirits representing foreigners during the cults of possession. The paper presents three types of these representations: Yemanja – Yoruba and New World Deity of Water, Mami Wata – worldwide known figure of water spirit and Mama Tchamba representing the spirits of slaves. These figures express the remembrance of encounters with Otherness and the desires connected with them and how they have been shaped over the centuries and continue to develop. The desire of wealth is expressed in cults of Yemanja and Mami Wata. The cult of Mama Tchamba calls to mind the slavery and expresses the desire for reconciliation. In all these cults vivified is the remembrance of the encounter with Otherness. The Atlantic transposition is performed in two ways movement – one from Africa to America looking for jobs, and the other from America to Africa in search for roots of origin.

Ryszard Ciarka 177
Jacek Olędzki Lotus Flowers. Crinkly–Celluloid Toilet Paper 179

The presented diary by Jacek Olędzki is a record of his journey to Africa in 1972-73 as part of the Academic African Expedition organised by the Club of African Studies Students at the Department of African Studies at Warsaw University. In an introduction to the journal Ryszard Ciarka draw attention to the unique value of the accounts since, in his opinion, “this is not a journal ‘to be read’ by others, but rather it was intended ‘to be written’ by the author, probably at various moments and with a different attitude towards surrounding reality as well as closest travelling companions, with no further consequences. This is why the reader has to maintain a certain distance and an awareness that he is transgressing the intimate, inner world of another person”. The journal is thus an original document showing the researcher in the reality under examination, as well as an interesting book in which, with the help of brief notes and concise descriptions, Olędzki outlined an image of Africa while drawing the reader into a discourse brimming with digressions about art (African and European) and systems of values (once again African and European) that henceforth was always present in his studies and publications.

Maciej Ząbek, Adam Rybiński Images of Africa and Africans as Seen by European Travelers from the End of the Nineteenth Century 197

The authors analyse nineteenth-century European and in particular Polish narrations concerning the perception of Africa and its inhabitants. Their specific feature is ambivalence in the demonization and, at the same time, idealisation or aestheticization of the population of this continent, as well as the contrast between the Africans and the white “protagonist”, featured in narrative forms typical for European culture. Polish “images” of Africa thus do not differ significantly from their European counterparts.

Adam Rybiński La main dans la main. The Matter of Pursuit of Tuareg Unity 205

The Tuareg tribes live in a vast desert in the area of south-western Libya, southern Algeria, northern Mali and Niger and the steppes of Mali Sahel, Niger and Burkina Faso, and have never been able to unite. Their historical background is mainly that of wars, plundering and fratricide. The Tuareg people were even unable to unite in the struggle against their mutual enemy, the French, who were gradually conquering the lands belonging to the different Tuareg tribes. Although very belligerent, the Tuareg people have always been aware of their linguistic and cultural community, which is manifested mostly in their endoethnonyms. The Tuareg people experienced great changes in the middle of XX century. Thousands of shepherds who lost their fortune as a result of the failure of the Tuareg uprisings went abroad, especially to Algeria and Libya, to look for work and create the Ishumar (“unemployed”) movement. Its aim was to liberate the compatriots from Mali and Niger and create an independent Tuareg State. To this day poet-musicians, so popular among the Tuareg people, have remained followers of the Ishumar ideas. In their songs their call for giving up quarrels and for unity (“Without unity, there is no rescue. Without unity, nothing will arise”). More and more frequently Ishumar poets are accompanied by women from traditional Tuareg musician groups. In the words sung by women from the Tartit group: „The Tuareg people should love one another, and go hand in hand, for unity and understanding. It is freedom that is above everything”.

Majan Garlinski Pictures from an Exhibition 225

Text accompanying the exhibition À Madagascar. Photographies de Jacques Faublée, 1938-41, presented at the Ethnographic Museum of Geneva in 2010.

Karolina Marcinkowska The World of “Those with Luminescent Eyes” Seen by King Dadilahy Buta 231

A fragment of notes made in the course of independent on-the-spot studies on the chumba cult in the town of Mahajanga on Madagascar. This is an account of one of many meetings with chumba: the spirit of the mpanyak ruler “living” in the body of a medium, as a rule, a woman. The term chumba refers to four phenomena: a cult of the ancestors, a ceremony comprising its core, an intermediary of the spirit, and the spirit of the ancestor. The chumba ceremony takes place upon the request of so-called clients and consists of an encounter with the spirit of a given ancestor, usually a Sakalava by origin. “Meetings” within the context of the chumba cult refer not only to the spirits and the clients, a man (chumba) and a woman (his medium) but also to the past and the present, daily life and the sphere of the sacrum. The titular people with “luminescent eyes” – grammas in the language of the chumba spirits – are the “white men”, the “strangers” and their world of objects, behaviour, and frequently changing fashions. Alien cultural impact, syncretism, and the category of otherness, present in the very source of the Sakalava culture, are based on respect for the dead, characteristic for the Malagasy people. In reference to the chumba ceremony, the ancestors remain the supreme instance not only in the role of those who sustain and transfer Malagasy traditions (fomba malagasy), but also in reference to changes and innovations introduced within its range, the acquaintance of new, earlier unknown behaviour or props.

Łukasz Kamiński “Kyendi” – Who Am I? 238

The article deals with experiencing a performance given by Ugandan break-dance performers from the “Break-dance Project Uganda” at the “Brave Festival” held in Wroclaw (“The ritual starts in Africa” edition from 2008) and the essence of the dance within its Ugandan context. The author of the article, who is also the co-author of a documentary film about Abramz Tekya, the founder and leader of the project, shows the role of the dance as a tool making it possible to act for the sake of social transformation in the marginalised urban youth communities of Uganda. Educators apply the dance to build an attitude of tolerance and social responsibility. An essential part of the text is about the globalisation motif of break-dance, which emerged in American ghettoes inhabited mainly by the successors of African slaves upon the basis of, i.a. Central African dance motifs. Several centuries later, Central African dances in a syncretic form expressed via the break-dance arrived, together with their hip-hop culture foundation, in Central Africa, and for numerous young Africans rapidly become the basis of demystification. The text also analyses the performance given by the Ugandan artists at the festival, concentrating attention on the introduction of tribal motifs into the dance and accentuating the dialogue character of the show based on the expectations of the Polish recipient. Finally, the author analysed the idea of the ritual and tradition in reference to the performance of the African artists and conducted a polemic with the vision harboured by the organisers of the festival relating to the socio-cultural ideological framework of this theatrical-cultural event.

Tomasz Szerszeń “Documents”, or a Declassification Machine: Problem of the Subtitle, The Formless 244

A fragment of one of the chapters of a Ph.D. thesis entitled: Margins of ethnology and art: “Documensts” (1922-30) and Michel Leiris’s Phantom Africa (1934). The author concentrates on the subtitles of the periodical, which is a manifesto of sorts of its editors, as well as the conceit of the formless (French: informe) that today has become one of those key-words describing contemporary art.

Marta Skwara Witkacy’s “Savages” – a Well-conceived Response to an Experience of the Exotic? 251

The essay analyses a large group of characters appearing in several dramas by Witkacy. Known as “savages (Polish: dzicy, and in the feminine form: dziczki, which already suggests a certain perversity vis à vis binding linguistic and cultural forms), they effectively shatter the image held by the so-called “civilised man” about so-called “savages”. Following closely Witkacy’s savages – starting with the drama Tumor Mózgowicz (1919-1920), Mr Price, czyli bzik tropikalny (1920) and Metafizyka dwugłowego cielęcia (1921) to the libretto to the operetta Panna Tutli-Putli (1921), the author analyses the deconstruction of elements of literature, culture and science conducted on the stage by Witkacy. She tries to demonstrate the way in which the author of the unforgettable “bloodynigger” dramatis persona – the head of the Aparura clan – tackles the civilised (scientific but also artistic) visions of “savagery”. This was a pioneering approach in relation to the postcolonial discourse, considering that it took place already in the 1920s.

Joanna Raczkowska “Towards the Light of the South…” or the Discovery of Africa by Mirosław Żuławski 265

The presented text is a literary critique attempt at deciphering Ucieczka do Afryki [Escape to Africa] by M. Żuławski, conceived as a sui generis diary of the author’s diplomatic service in Senegal in 1974–77. His reflections are placed within a wide context of mutual contacts between Polish (and European) and African culture. The author’s enthrallment with the Black Continent was accompanied by his enormous readiness to become familiar with it and understand it. This experience resulted in a need for a re-definition of himself by insertion in his home town of Dobromil. The text is composed of several chapters dealing with the following issues: primitive art, the image of Africa in Polish and European literature, the motif of the hunt, and the role performed by music and light. The background is the myth of old Africa, whose quest compelled Żuławski to leave the European Continent.

Małgorzata Kitowska-Łysiak Light-Sensitivity. Could Xięga bałwochwalcza by Bruno Schulz Have Been Written Without cliché verre? 275

In about 1920 Bruno Schulz executed a series of etchings, which he entitled: Xięga bałwochwalcza. Today, it produces increasing interest among researchers mainly due to the “book” structure of the predominantly erotic motifs, and its place within the oeuvre of this artist. It still remains a puzzle when and how did Schulz become acquainted with the rarely applied cliché verre technique. The article pertains both to the Schulzian series and the nature and history of the titular technique. One of its descriptions says: “Take a glass plate or a pane and execute a drawing not in a darkroom but by hand, making use of all the possibilities created by the properties of glass – its transparency and non-transparency, analogously to the photographic negative; then the picture is copied on light sensitive paper in the same way as an ordinary plate”. Schulz used cliché verre, i.a. to achieve a conceptual effect of stimmung, resulting from the need to depict closed spaces, which constitute sui generis locations for the intimate scenes involving men and women. He was probably less interested in the status of the technique; much more important was the fact that it assisted the language of vision and was highly effective – it made it possible to produce images.

Irena Kossowska Aporia: Multiplied Depictions, Paraphrased Images 285

The author reflects on a domain of the visual arts that is part of the domain of aporia, and that intrigues with its semantic brilliance, evades binding interpretations, and provokes ever new ways of deciphering while at the same time situating itself on the borderline of the canonical, the recognised and the known in art. The author shows the evocative potential of a little-known graphic self-portrait by the forgotten Polish graphic artist Wanda Komorowska (1873-1946), its susceptibility to interpretation and inclination towards assorted research contexts as well as resistance vis à vis methodical discourse closed with an ultimate conclusion. The point of reference in the discourse are mirror reflections in the art of Whistler and Japanese woodcuts, double (Stanisław Wyspiański) and multiple (Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz) portraits with symbolic connotations as well as simultaneous photographic portraits from the Bauhaus range (Moholy-Nagy) and multiplied self-portraits by Warhol. The author’s argumentation shows that it is impossible to resolve definitely whether Komorowska’s Self-portrait is situated at the beginning of this development line in the art of the portrait, which leads to the stance represented by Duchamps and Warhol, re-evaluating cultural tradition, or whether it is part of a formula of the portrait disclosing the dualism of the human ego, its rational and unconscious dimension (Surrealists). The patrons of the interpretation proposed by the author are Barthes (the conception of the punctum in photography) and Baudrilllard (the simulacrum). The register of different formulas of the multiplied image contains also the “tableau” as art of the photographic frame paraphrasing the traditional conventions of depiction (Man Ray), which enhances reflection on the ontological character of the photograph as a medium. The dialogue with art of the past questions the purely mimetic nature of depiction and makes us aware of the creative power of art stemming from surrounding reality – provincial, common and prosaic (Krzywobłocki, Schulz, Sielska). The perspective of Derridaean associations, accepted by the author, leads invariably towards the sphere of irresolvable interpretations.

Dariusz Czaja Dark Night. Nihilology and Faith 298

What is the meaning of the metaphor of the dark night, fundamental for the teachings of St. John, and how should it be understood? What sort of anthropological meanings emerged from the dark night of Auschwitz? For contemporary reflection this dark night of the Holocaust and atheism may turn out to be a promise or an obstacle. In a situation when the naive, pre-critical languages of the faith lost their explanatory might, the nihilology of the night might be some sort of a chance for resolving the intellectual impasse…

Krzysztof Lipka Bird Universe Artistically Warbling Birds 313

This article is a continuation of the Audial image series published in “Konteksty”.

Andrzej Pieńkos The Retreat of the Romantic Poet. Lamartine amidst Vineyards 327

A successive part of the series on the homes of artists – especially those from the nineteenth century. This time the protagonist is Lamartine and his chateau-retreat Monceau. This residence is particularly interesting in contrast with the poet’s other homes as an alternative seat or at least to a considerable extent deprived of the elementary functions of a home because it was created probably for the purpose of a single function – meditation and creation.

Antoni Ziemba Naples and Luca Giordano 334

Naples is a legendary town-myth, and Baroque Naples is a town of two extremities, pious myths and proud aristocrats, the site of ascesis and mystical experiences, as well as fun and ceremonies. The most prominent impulse for the development of Neapolitan painting, of consequence for several generations of artists, was the arrival of Caravaggio (1606). Despite a lifestyle full of scandals and evasions, his stay turned out to be a time of lively and bountiful activity with a far-reaching and long-lasting impact upon the milieu of Neapolitan masters – the adherents of tenebrism, either brutal and rough or lyrical, created by Giovanni Battista Capriccioso, Artemisia Genteileschi, Jusepe de Ribera, Bernardo Cavallino, Andrea Vaccaro and the young Luca Giordano. The great plague of 1656 produced drastic transformations. A whole generation of artists enrooted in the old formula of art died out and was replaced by the young, inclined to pursue a new trend, lavish decorativeness and Baroque opulence. They included Luca Giordano, who at the time of his journey to Rome (1652-53) became familiar with the paintings of Rubens and borrowed the latter’s manner, full of unhampered vigour and glibness, which proved to be a source of great success and a brilliant career. Giordano executed altar paintings and started to paint frescoes; the summit of his international career was his departure for Spain (1692), painting the ceiling of the Imperial Staircase at the Escorial and, subsequently, an appointment to the post of the court painter of King Charles II of Spain. Giordano painted in a workshop manner and made drawings, sketches and bozettos, thus attaining extraordinary adroitness. In the manner of all painters-authors of frescoes he ran a workshop with numerous assistants who partly executed his works or their fragments.

Bogusław Sławomir Bobula On Painting by Luca Giordano and the Collection of Stanisław Wydżga339
Elżbieta Ficowska The Birth of a Poet349
Krzysztof Czyżewski Look Straight into the Eyes. On the Portrait of Jerzy Ficowski353
*  “Amulets and Definition, or a Sketch to a Portrait of Jerzy Ficowski”. Fragments of Dialogues from the film by Paweł Woldan355

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