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Untitled (Marion & Yaure Mask)

John Edmonds


A stylish young man, wearing a skull cap and leather garments, contemplates a wooden mask by a Yaure artist from Côte d’Ivoire that was once owned by the late Black American writer Ralph Ellison. These powerful supernatural and sacred objects, which women are forbidden to see, appear only in the context of men’s funerals.

Edmonds made this picture in the Brooklyn Museum’s Beaux-Arts Court, where the European Art collection is currently installed, evident by the letters “rope” (clipped from “European”) visible behind the studio backdrop. While many of Edmonds’s previous photographs feature models touching or in close proximity to objects, the physical distance between the two in this picture highlights the various barriers created by art history and its institutions. Museums have historically presented cultural artifacts in controlled environments that emphasize aesthetics over original function.
MEDIUM Gelatin silver print
DATES 2020
DIMENSIONS image: 48 × 60 in. (121.9 × 152.4 cm) frame: 48 1/2 × 60 1/2 × 1 1/2 in. (123.2 × 153.7 × 3.8 cm)
CREDIT LINE Purchase gift of Steven Guttman
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
EDITION Edition: Unique
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