COMBS and PINS: African Arts of Hairdress from West Central Africa, ANGOLA and KONGO

2021, Royal Ontario Museum
About This Project

Date: Launch Date TBD
Partner: Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
Sponsors: Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
Location: URL Forthcoming
Project Members: Mohamed-Hashim Elkareem, iSchool 2021, Combined Degree Program (CDP), MI/MMSt
“The civilization of the twentieth century cannot be universal except by being a dynamic synthesis of all the cultural values of all civilizations. It will be monstrous unless it is seasoned with the salt of negritude, for it will be without the savor of humanity.”

Léopold Sédar Senghor

In Africa when an old person dies, it is like when a library [an archive or museum] burns down.

Amadu Hampâté Bâ

COMBS and PINS: African Arts of Hairdress from West Central Africa is defined solely within African systems of knowledge and art. It evinces the critical convergence in aesthetic, cultural, and artistic practices of two significant systems of traditionalism and modernity within both an African and African-Diasporic context: the concept of the collected and preserved African object and the museum in the West. Respectively, this exhibition engages objects of African hair COMBS and hair PINS as African Arts of Hairdress in powerful and reflective ways as traditional and modern “technologies of appearances”.

curatorial/project intent

The curatorial/project intent is to highlight late-19th and early-20th century collections of African arts and objects in the collections at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) as well as display and publish objects online to make them viewable and accessible to viewers and visitors, in particular focusing on Contemporary African arts.

Roles and achievements in the project
My roles and achievements in the project include curator, researcher, interpreter, and designer.

Exhibition Process
The process began by focusing on objects from the region of West Central Africa and the southern western central coastal region spreading over the ancient kingdom of the KONGO/CONGO. Previously, this empire or kingdom extended over a number of central regions and countries such as Angola, Congo, and Democratic Republic of Congo. There is a direct linkage historically and ethnologically with some of the ethnic groups in the African diaspora with those Africans who were transported during slavery to the coast of Georgia and North and South Carolina. The exhibition will be displayed and exhibited online. I would like to acknowledge and extend a sincere thank you to the Royal Ontario Museum for providing permissions to use the objects from the collection for the purpose of this exhibition. I extended a sincere thank you to Dr. Silvia Forni, Curator at the ROM, and the entire team at the Contemporary African Art Collection department.