Sunday, December 9, 2012

AfricaStyle: Wall of Masks (?)

Masks - yay or nay?

I kind of think the masks you see around these parts (... in Africa) are creepy and generally look contrived. Really, I have no idea how to buy a mask because at the market they all look like old pieces of wood (if they're antique), legitimately frightening, or like tourist crap (as if they were recreated for your "viewing pleasure"). However, I like them in museums and I often think they look awesome in people's homes, when styled properly. I particularly like these walls devoted to masks, and I'm inspired to start my own with masks from the countries I visit.

Girly and ethnic. Genius.
I especially love how this wall includes a mask from Venice, and Elmos's head. Tongue-in-cheek... love it.
Dream guesthouse in Morocco, with pieces from all over the world, including Africa.
But, I'm still not naturally drawn to masks. I much prefer decorative plates, but they aren't so much a thing here in Africa. Or baskets! Maybe I'll do a basket wall; I was planning on this anyways, but not as a collection from different countries. The thing is, at least in West Africa, the baskets pretty much look the same. Another post on baskets another time!

Despite my slight aversion to masks, I think a collection would be something to appreciate down the road when I'm settled in my Western home and I miss the days of living abroad in Africa (when that day comes!)--something to pass down as a family heirloom. I just need to get the hang of picking out the authentic (anthro book, maybe?) and stylish masks I come across at the market, rather than feeling overwhelmed by so much... wood.

Here are some masks and figurines I photographed at a market in Cameroon on my first trip in August. I couldn't make up my mind and I walked away with nothing. Which would you have chosen?

At first I thought these were nice; then I noticed the boobs. Then I thought they were touristy. Then I had no idea if they were good taste or not so I gave up on them. My artist friend later confirmed they're crap. Its so hard to tell!
I really like this bronze figurine.
Eh. Kind of intense for my taste, though I like that it is beaded...
These fell into the "contrived" category for me.
Strangely, I like these creepy guys. I think I'm going to need one one of these days. But it also kind of looks like garbage. Sigh.
They're just too caricature-esque for me.
Again, I'm drawn to the nails!
Bronze faces. Their eyes scare me.
Maybe the white one would look amazing in someone's home. I couldn't tell, but the nose looked really big.
Cat heads. Original.
Please, I would love to know if you have a hard time deciding which of these you like also! Which are you drawn to? I didn't include several metal pieces I liked, so I think that might be more my style... but harder to mount on the wall. Hum.

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