Disguise: Masks and Global African Art at the Fowler

Disguise is more than an exhibition—it is a bold move to bring the masquerade into the museum. These contemporary artists use the notion of disguise to hide their identity and reveal issues of social, political or cultural importance in their work.The act of altering or concealing one’s identity is at the core of traditional African masquerade.

The Fowler’s presentation of Disguise features 12 contemporary artists—six from continental Africa and six Americans of African heritage— who employ artistic strategies of disguise and key visual and performative elements of traditional African masquerade in their work.

Residents were impressed by the “variety of creative mediums” used by the artists including drawing, photography, video, sculpture, performance, and installation. For example, artist Emeka Ogboh composed a soundtrack that sets a base pulse to the gallery experience. Other artists use video to document their performance-based commissions that showcase disguises being enacted in city streets, in forests, and in museum galleries.


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