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May 09, 1986 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1986-05-09

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ARTS
Friday, May 9, 1986

Page 8
Tabwa 'New Moon'
shines at Museum

The Michigan Daily

By Celia Hooper
T HE RISING of a New Moon: A
Century of Tabwa Art is cap-
tivating; rewarding to both the
mind and the eye. The exhibit is
one of the two biggest efforts of the
year for the University of
Michigan Museum of Art.
The show includes over 100 art
objects, mostly wood carvings
created between 1850 and 1930 by
the Tabwa people of southeastern
Zaire and northeastern Zambia.
The exhibit was organized by
Evan Maurer, the director of the
Museum of Art, and Allen Rober-
ts, an anthropologist at Albion
College.
The show will be at the Museum
through July 27.
The exhibit is unusual and suc-
cessful in the way it interweaves
art and anthropology. Informative
signs, and an extensive catalogue
place the art in the context of the
Tabwa culture. We learn, for
example, that the pattern called
balamwezi, or "the rising of the
new moon" was central to Tabwa
philosophy, symbolizing the
dualities of life: light/dark,
evil/good, fortune/misfortune.
The museum notes that the
repeated triangle motif served "as
a means through which to con-
template the trials and triumphs
of Tabwa social life."
The "new moon" motif is an ex-
cellent theme for the show.

Dualities and ironies permeate
the exhibit. The development o
this contemplative art came as the
result of slave and ivory trades
Symbols decorating chiefs' tool
emphasize simultaneously the
leaders' fierce and nurturing
characteristics. Carved figure
are clearly anatomically correc
with male or female genitalia.
The exhibit focuses unflin
chingly on Tabwa people and thei
art. The carved patterns on th
sculptures represent th
decorative (if somewha
gruesome to non-Tabwas) lines o
scars that the people made i
theirs skin; a sort of a Tabwa ver
sion of tatoos.
But The Rising of a New Moo
does not make such analogies wit
Western culture. The exfiibi
posters state that the function o
Tabwa art was 1) to help peopl
solve their problems throug
meditation and magical powers i
the art objects and 2) to confirr
the legitimacy of the existing or
der through power symbols and do(
umentation of lineage. Thea
functions of Tabwa art strongl
parallel the functions of Western
religious art and architecture, bu
such comparisons and side-track
are adamantly excluded from th
show with one tiny, brilliant ex
ception: Two six-inch gaps in the
north wall of the Tabwa exhibi
that let you peek through to the ad
jacent permanent collection.

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Guitarists/songwriters Chris Hickey and Scott Seskind will be appearing at the Blind Pig next week.
Pictured above is Hickey during a home recording session.
Duo plays brave new folk

Dance Theatre Studio

Classes in ballet,
modern, jazz, tap,
and ballroom.
New classes begin
May 12.
For current class
schedule and
more information
call 995-4242.

e .
- By Beth Fertig
e
it
l- HIS coming Tuesday night,
the Blind Pig will host two
emerging artists of what has been
dubbed the "new" folk scene:
Chris Hickey and Scott Seskind.
Young and socially conscious,
these musicians are sure to give
their audience a highly ap-
preciated evening of spirited
guitar songs.
Hickey and Seskind, native
Californians, became friends
while still in high school, but pur-
sued separate paths before
teaming up musically. Hickey
served some time with a band
called The Spoilers, while Seskind
spent a short term with the Peace
Corps, worked in convalescent
hospitals, homes for troubled
young people, and-like
Hickey-also had been a sub-
stitute teacher in Los Angeles.
The two began playing music
together about one and a half
years ago, and each has recorded
a solo album on Hickey's 4-Track
home recording studio.
Hickey's album, Frames of
Mind, Boundaries of Time, is a
striking product-and even more
impressive when one considers
that it emerged from such a small
scale production. "I almost lost
my mind a few times," he said
looking back on the experience, "I
just did it in a little room all by
myself." On record, Hickey's

soft voice practically melts over
his simple, exquisitely lovely
ballads and pop(ier) num-
bers-sometimes love songs,
sometimes political statements.
Like Hickey, Seskind, too recor-
ded his self-titled album by him-
self; although Hickey plays with
him of two of the cuts. Seskind's
arrangements are sparser than
those of Hickey's, but nonetheless,
his record is equally honest and
heart-felt.
Many critics have spoken of a
new folk revival these days. Are
Hickey and Seskind part of this
trend, or are they doing what has been
done for years? When asked where
his style fits in, Hickey says,
"Folk music, it's a weird term. I
never figured that I was playing
folk until a lot of people called it
that-which is fine with me-but I
just thought most people that were
'folk' were more serious about
'traditions.' I read that people like
Billie Bragg are folk, Suzanne
Vega, 10,000 Maniacs.
But is that the folk of today, one
wonders.
"Yea, I think that's what people
are calling it. To me, folk is just
like music without all the trim-
mings."
When asked about what led him
to playing music, Scott Seskind
said he wrote his songs-many of
which are about heartbreak or
social injustice-before he began
playing guitar in college. Today,

he adds that he often plays on the
streets or in the malls of his
current home, Boulder, Colorado.
"Actually," he says, "one of the
songs on the record I recorded ina
mall ("This is My Country")."
When asked about what prom-
pted him to cut a record, Seskind
says "I just thought if people listen
to my records they would feel bet-
ter because they would see that
somebody felt the same way. Like
when I read books, you know,
when I was feeling down, it would
make me feel good because I
would see that other people were
at a place where I was."
Certainly, Seskind's work ex-
periences have played a vital role
in his new-found musical ex-
pression, although they are not
necessarily inspirational.
"Here in Boulder, I was working
in a house where these 'troubled
teenage boys' live. I was half
parent, half counselor. Theyhall
liked my record, they all held it
close to them. It meant a lot to
them. But none of the songs were
nspired by them-they were writ-
ten before I met them."
Hickey and Seskind-and their
car (nota van)-are currently on
their first national tour. rlfuch of
their itinerary focuses on the
Midwest, which brings them to
Ann Arbor next week. And
whether or not you choose to call
them a (new) folk act, they'resure
to be an act well worth seeing.

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