OTOT | Daring to Defy Cultural Constructions

April - October 2016

  • Artists
  • Berry Matundu
    Bodo Amani
    Bodo Père

    In the beginning there was Sande. Women were the custodians of all ritual and the spiritual powers necessary for defending sacred traditions in the interests of the ancestors. The generations spring from women’s wombs, and it is their arcane lore which ensures the fertility of families, of land, and of all nature. The myth that explains the origin of the Sande institution (The women’s association entrusted with the physical and mental transformation of girls into women) goes on to describe how men assumed control of what women originated.

    It is believed that in ancient times, Jewish women and men used to cover themselves in a prayer shawl while facing God. Though the Torah never prohibited women from doing so, over the centuries the shawl, or Tallit, became associated exclusively with religious male practices. Nowadays, women from various currents in Judaism tend to wrap themselves in a Tallit, and it has become customary for 12 year-old girls to choose their Tallit for their Bat Mitzvah ceremony to symbolize their induction into the community of faith.

    In the cultural practices of both the Mande and Jewish peoples, the artifacts presented in Otot are associated with the process of transforming young girls into women, capable of assuming their religious responsibility as adults. Moreover, by adopting objects which are traditionally associated with men, women assume equality and expand their power and control in the community. Conversely, according to the Western feminist approach, religious ideology plays an important role in reproducing oppressive social norms. Therefore, assuming objects associated with the patriarchy also means affirming gender inequality.

    Otot offers a different take on this dilemma by displaying objects as lacking in agency, as detached from the sociopolitical context of their origin. This process of objectifying the object, so to speak, and negating its subjectivity, permits the juxtaposition of ritual artifacts from two distinct cultures. Moreover, this arrangement, so fundamentally alien to our western way of knowledge classification, is an opportunity to change our perception. It could serve as an exercise for the viewer to reexamine society's dichotomization of exotic objects produced by “primitive” people as opposed to spiritual artifacts produced for “sophisticated” believers.

    • Artists
    • Berry Matundu
      Bodo Amani
      Bodo Père

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    The African Studies Gallery
    Alrov Tower, floor 22
    3 Shadal Street
    Tel Aviv, 66883

    Curator: Idit Toledano
    Exhibition Design: Studio Esh-Binimov
    Web Design: Nadine Rotem-Stibbe
    Online Editor: Maya Brandwine
    Web Development: Théo Goedert


    T: +972 3 729 2100

    Opening Hours

    Sunday-Thursday 10am-5pm
    Friday & Saturday - Gallery is Closed