Africa has always been seen as having one of the most backward civilisations in the world. Growing up, I’ve always had a particular view of Africa: tribes and animals. I’ve always been fascinated by that particular aspect of Africa, but not once have I stopped to think about the art or even the period of colonialism.
After week 2, where we talked about the ivories that came out of Africa, my perspective of their culture and their arts has changed. Their craft was exceptional, it shows, very clearly, the level of skill they possessed and their ability to bring life to such a precious material. While some might say that they’re backwards, their craft during that time shows something very different. Their level of skill was so great that they were asked to create works of art for the elite back in Europe, works that were not able to have been made by the Europeans at that time (or so to my knowledge).
But the one thing that did not change was how the Western world has exploited the resources in Africa. Though they may have respected the chieftains or the craftsmen in Africa, their exploitation of materials, especially that of ivory, has done nothing but harm the ecosystem. Up till now, elephants are being hunted in Africa, not necessarily for the westerners, as this issue is also very prominent in Asia and other parts of the world. While elephants are somewhat protected in Africa, other animals (even those that are protected) are still being hunted, and while elephants were hunted for their tusks, other animals are hunted for the sake of being hunted, or as the hunters might call it, Big Game Hunting.
Here’s some information on big game hunting and it’s affects on Africa: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34116488
(While this issue may not have anything to do with art history, I do believe it is an important issue, and since we were in Africa in week 2, I believe this does have some importance as well. Hope that’s ok!)