Urban masking associations and their conceptual and visual processes in Freetown, Sierra Leone

David Malik

Masquerade has been and continues to be a key site for articulating a range of issues in West African cities. The historical and cultural specificity of Freetown has allowed for the dynamic invention of unique masquerades, which are mobilised by a range of participants for political, economic, or social goals as well as for ‘play’ and aesthetic visual pleasure. The urban spaces of Freetown are contested arenas where a range of social groupings assert their presence and compete through a variety of strategies and tactics. Masking associations are key in shaping individual and collective identities, while also offering political and cultural resources to its inhabitants.
This lecture of David Malik explores the trajectories of these associations within the broader context of masquerade traditions and the diversity of their origins. Additionally, it examines how artists position themselves within Freetown’s artworlds and extend their reach to other regions and continents through local, regional, and intercontinental networks.