Je ne suis pas moi-même

Je ne suis pas moi-même

About: Je ne suis pas moi-même, a movie from Durall Ventura

Dear $email,

I really enjoyed this 50 minutes long movie filmed in Cameroon and on the Sablon in Brussels.

Je ne suis pas moi-même” is a documentary that explains the contradictions in the African antiques world, especially how the African think on there own art, make new objects to look old and that are made to “fool” the unknowing clients . Interesting to see them make a new piece to look old, while they tell you they don’t need a CT scan to feel how old it is !. Having never been there I found it very interesting.

NOTE: Don’t click the image to see the movie visit Je ne suis pas moi-même

Je ne suis pas moi-meme


It is interesting to see how the masks are made “old” and how the tourist in Africa tries to convince to do an exchange with some “white gold” (sic) . It is interesting to see how the “runners” operate in Africa to buy so-called “antique” objects, and why “stolen object” are just sold instead of stolen, how a replacement object is made to be able to buy a badly carved “tabouret” from the Queen mother of Kom. How dealing happens in Foumbam or Douala . In Bamenda the journalist made the cultural minister very nervous asking him questions about the “trafficking” of antiquities, and the laws that should make illicit any export of art outside Cameroon . When the African “African art” dealers speak together, it is to explain how to make the “patina” more convincing. What declaration is given when the objects get out of the country in Douala, is what matters, since as a dealer told, nobody seems to have the expertise in Africa. The movie also show some images taken during the Bruneaf , how X-Rays can help to see if an object has been restored. In the RMCA Museum of Tervueren, the conservator explains the “religious spirit” is not in Africa anymore, but this wasn’t a convincing argument to me when watching the vivid dancing in the beginning of the movie.. In the five last minutes of the movie you see a collector hesitating to buy a Yombe mask for 2,500 €. The chances are high that mask was made less than five years ago. Humidity in Congo is high and objects often don’t survive if not kept in good conditions. If it is a genuine Yombe mask it is worth hundred of thousands euros, but in this business, it is the authenticating of the objects that is the most important skill. Never forget that it is already more than 120 years that the objects from Africa are collected in the Western countries.

A related book:

The Savage Hits Back by Julius E. Lips, Br…Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University
formerly Head of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Cologne and Director of the
Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum .


It is all about the way traditional artists viewed the first missionaries,soldiers,explorers and traders [ The Savage Hits Back is full of examples]

Read also my posting from yesterday:

I wish also to congratulate all the new members of the African Art Club. On Tuesday 1 January the African Art Club  membership will be 20 % more expensive. More info …

Hope you enjoyed this edition.

David Norden

P.S.: Your comments on the movie are welcome at ?

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