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NOVEMBER 16

Western cultural ideologues will be chagrined to find that their contemporary obsessions have for centuries motivated the physical culture of the Luba peoples. Memory as re-creation rather than retrieval, history as a fiction serving the needs of the ruling class, the regendering of personal identity, and the politicization of the body are threads running through “Memory: Luba Art and the Making of History,” an exhibition of more than 100 artifacts of the kingdom that once thrived in what is now Southeastern Zaire. Less cerebral Re/Searchers, however, will be charmed by tales of such up-to-date practices as premarital scarification (though they should note that such rites in fact predate the publication of Modern Primitives, much less the release of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and are deemed to make women more marriageable, not less). Conservative museumgoers preferring more orthodox subjects will be relieved to find discussions of the transmission of violent national creation myths through oral tradition and the conferrence of divinity via the drinking of human blood. In today’s talk, “Astonishing Forms: The Sculpture of the Luba Peoples and Their Neighbors,” Frank Herreman, director of exhibitions for New York’s Museum for African Art, undertakes a stylistic analysis of such richly loaded objects as the pictured “double bowl figure.” (PETAphiles, who vigorously objected to the cleaning of fish in the Rudolf Schwarzkogler photos on view at the Hirshhorn, should observe that animals were harmed in the making of Luba objects—not that America’s crackpot culture cowards would ever bring their know-nothingism to bear on such an obvious Other.) At 3 p.m. at the National Museum of African Art Lecture Hall, 950 Independence Ave. SW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Glenn Dixon)