Materializing the Image, Imaging the Material: African Facemasks in Second Life


  • Edwin Bodjawh Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
  • kąrîʼkạchä seid’ou
  • Selasie Sosu University of Education Winneba
  • Bertha Ayim Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology



African, facemasks, image, medium, serial


In his expanded sculpture practice, the artist Edwin Bodjawah interfaces accumulative practice, collaborative production and mechanical manufacture. The ensuing sculptural forms are serial facemasks which exist as both multiples and standalone objects. Guided by the axiom ‘the medium is the message and the message is the medium’, the artist images aspects of modern and past life of West Africa with the readymade materials he collects for his work, respectively, decommissioned litho-printing plates and derelict roofing sheets. The readymade images he appropriates (African facemasks) materialize African systems of cultural production which anticipate the expanded field of contemporary art, its democratization of media and its prospects for collective production of art. Masks also connote for the artist, the interdependency of artistic activity, objects and daily life, and the interstitial spaces within modern life in which artists enact their creative visions. The paper argues that the interface between repurposed material and appropriated image presents a congenial site through which the literal African experience in capitalist, colonial and post-colonial systems can be resurrected, re-presented and re-engaged.  

Author Biographies

  • Edwin Bodjawh, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

    Department of Painting and Sculpture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi

    Senior Lecturer and Dean of Faculty of Art

  • kąrîʼkạchä seid’ou

    Department of Painting and Sculpture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi

    Senior Lecturer and Head of department

  • Selasie Sosu, University of Education Winneba

    Department of Art Education, University of Education Winneba, Winneba.


  • Bertha Ayim, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology

    Department of Communication Design, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi



Appadurai, A. (1990). Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cult9ural Economy. Public Culture. Duke University Press. 2 (2) : 1 – 24.

Benjamin, W. 1936. The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Available at: [Accessed 11 May 2013]

Benjamin, W. 2008. Author as Producer. [Address at the Institute for the study of Fascism. Paris. April 27, 1934]. In The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media. Cambridge, London: Harvard University Press, pp. 79-96.

Bodjawah, E. K. (2017). Masking the Masquerade. On Reproduction and Simulation of African Mask Forms.

Derrida, J.(2001). Structure, Sign, and Play in the Human Sciences. In Writing and Difference [trans. Alan Bass, 2nd rev. ed.]. New York; London: Routledge

Forster, T. 1993. Senufo Masking and the Art of Poro. African Arts. Vol. 26, No. 1 pp. 30-41+101. Published by UCLA James S. Coleman African Studies Center. Available at:[Accessed 06 October, 2015]

Glaze, A. 1981. Art and death in a Senufo Village. Indiana University Press. Indiana.

Glaze, A. 1993. Call and Response: A Senufo Caryatid Drum. Art Institute of Chicago Museums Studies. Vol. 19. No. 2 Notable Acquisitions at the Institute of Chicago since 1980 pp. 118-133; 196-198. Published by: The Institute of Chicago. Available at: [Accessed 13 July, 2014]

Krauss, R. 1979. Sculpture in the Expanded Field. The MIT Press. October, Vol. 8, pp. 30-44. Available at: [Accessed 11 July, 2014]

Madoff, S. 2009. Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century). The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London.

Mixinge, A. 2009. Autonomy and Self-Transcendence in Contemporary African Art: Resilience, Change and Renewal. ISSN 1350-0775. No. 244 (Vol.61.No.4. 2009) ©UNESCO 2010. UNESCO Publishing and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Mudimbe, V. 1988. The Invention of Africa-Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge (African Systems of Thought). Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis.

Nooter, M. 1993. Secrecy: African Art That Conceals and Reveals. African Arts, Vol. 26, No. 1 pp. 54-69+102 Published by: UCLA James S. Coleman African Studies Center. Available at: [Accessed 19 May, 2014]

Nwoga, I. 1967. West African Verse. Longman Group Limited, Essex.

Senefelder, A. 1998. The Invention of Lithography, Graphic Arts Teachers Foundation Press, Pennsylvania.

Stallabrass, J. 2004. Contemporary Art: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Thompson, N. 2014. A Study of Early Corrugated Iron Buildings in Rural Scotland. Available at: [Accessed 30 March, 2014]

Vogel, S. 1981. For Spirit and Kings - African Art. Available at: the Paul and Ruth Tishman Collection. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Abrams, Inc, New York

Welch L, Killeen M, Davidson B. 2010. Inventions that changed History. Massachusetts Academy of Mathematics and Science. Massachusetts

Willett, F. 1985. African Art: An Introduction. Reprint Edition, Thames and Hudson, New York.

Wingert, P. 1954. Anatomical Interpretations in African Masks. Man, Vol. 54 (May, 1954), Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland pp. 69-71. Available at: [Accessed 2 February, 2014]







Similar Articles

1-10 of 120

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.