3. Africa

For a long time a common error among western commentators was to classify the peoples and traditional arts of Africa, along with those of prehistory, as 'primitive.' In fact, of course, the native cultures of Africa are sophisticated and subtle.

In Africa for longer than in Europe arts continued to exist in a social and religious context, as a function of a rich spiritual life and in reverent, mythopaeic relation to their environment. Such attitudes are lost to a post-Industrial Revolution world, which views artists, artworks, and indeed the spiritual, with scepticism, or at least sets them apart from functional life in the 'real world.'

The parallels often drawn between tribal art (and indeed prehistoric art) and the modern art of the West, while not invalid, at times disregard the former's true function in its original context. The films in this section variously show art within its social framework or directly presented to the viewer, without narrated explanation, thus respecting the ability of the work of art to operate both as a social tool and as an independent, self-sufficient object of beauty and significance.

Tassili N'Ajjer
Prehistoric Rock Paintings of the Sahara
The Shape of Darkness
An Exploration of African Art
Of Leaves and of Earth
Traditional Tribal Architecture of the Cameroon