Significant but Unseeing Audiences: Women’s Contributions to West African Power Associations and the Organization’s Performances will be presented by Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi.
For more than a century, observers have characterized West African power associations known as Komo and Kono as male dominated. Yet in western Burkina Faso today, certain Komo and Kono chapters authorize some women to view their arts, and women not authorized to see still interact with performers during events or appeal to the organizations’ leaders at other times for help in resolving problems in their lives.
In this talk, Gagliardi draws on 22 months of fieldwork she has conducted in western Burkina Faso since 2004 to demonstrate the importance of audiences to the design of power association performances.
She argues that Komo and Kono masquerade audiences include both literal spectators and unseeing participants. By shifting focus from performers to audiences—the indispensable but barely investigated contributors to African masquerades—Gagliardi redefines what audiences are as well as challenges descriptors of Komo and Kono that rely on hard and fast gender divisions.
This event is presented with support from the Art History Baldwin Endowment.