Over 150 Swahili artworks from East Africa and beyond are part of UCLA's Fowler Museum newest exhibition which runs through February 10, 2019.
Sunday, October 21, 2018
308 Charles E Young Dr N
Los Angeles, CA 90025
For centuries, peoples from the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Africa, and Europe have journeyed across the Indian Ocean in many directions. On the east African coast, this confluence of peoples gave rise to many diverse communities that are often called “Swahili”—after the Arabic word meaning “edge” or “coast.” The exhibition challenges fixed and familiar notions of places like Africa and Asia, and asks visitors to ponder how artistic practices lead people to remap their relationship to seemingly distant cultures.
More than 150 artworks from Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Oman, and India demonstrate how the region is a vibrant site of cultural convergence and illuminate Africa’s contributions to the artistic vocabulary of the wider Indian Ocean world. Among the objects included are beautifully illuminated Qur’ans, intricately carved architectural elements and embellished furniture, vintage studio portraits, and lavish silver and ivory jewelry. Forty works on loan from the National Museums of Kenya and the Bait Al Zubair Museum in Oman are touring the U.S. for the first time.
This exhibition takes visitors into the streets and homes of Swahili port towns and beyond, highlighting the arts of diplomacy and trade, the built environment and interior display, sociality and self-fashioning, spiritual knowledge and pious devotion. The arts on view speak to an outward-looking ethos—one of encounter and possibility, negotiation, and struggle—that connects the people on the Swahili coast with faraway places, and reveal how people bring the world home.
Sponsor(s): , Fowler Museum at UCLA