May 21 – August 21, 2016
Venice, Natural History Museum
A traveller and photographer, Umberto Knicz has always been fascinated by African culture, and thanks to long and tiring personal research and numerous expeditions to the crags of Bandiagara, he has gathered many extraordinary examples of the art and culture of the Dogon people.
Masks, sculptures, doors, bronze objects and jewellery by this still mysterious population from Mali will go on display in the fascinating venue of the Museo di Storia Naturale di Venezia. The Dogon are skilful farmers who a long time ago adapted to living in the crags, transformed into a form of architecture, and they remained relatively isolated from the rest of the country until the 20th century. Over the course of five centuries, this has enabled them to develop a wholly original culture.
They are animists, with a rigid social and religious organisation, living suspended between earth and sky, expressing themselves through ritual dances and ceremonies. Their ancestors left paintings and pictograms on the walls of the Bandiagara caves, and these have only recently been deciphered, as they were under the custody of the Hogon, the high priest, guardian of knowledge.
Thanks to the fine collection on show here, it is now possible to learn more about the Dogon culture, which has been defended and preserved so tenaciously and for so long.
Curator Umberto Knycz