Collections: Daniel Reed - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Dan and Wobé Mask Performance in Côte d'Ivoire (1997)

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Two genu from Petit Gbapleu at a Gebian, or Racing Mask Competition, with drummer Semlen Aimé, Man, Cote d'Ivoire, 1997. Image © Daniel Reed.

This collection comprises a portion of a larger body of video footage shot by Daniel B. Reed and his research team during ten months of field research on music and mask performance among Dan peoples in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa from January to November 1997. The subject of this research is the performance of a multi-faceted religious and artistic phenomenon that the Dan people of western Côte d'Ivoire call "Ge." Ge, which in scholarly literature has been translated as "mask," appears among humans as a dancing and musical embodiment of Dan social ideals and beliefs. For many Dan who continue to practice what they often call "the tradition," or "the religion of our ancestors," Ge is at the root of Dan identity, of what it means to be Dan. In the contemporary postcolonial environment, characterized by increased religious, ethnic, and economic diversity, many Dan use Ge to position themselves to the world around them and get things done. This research, originally conducted for a dissertation (Reed 1999), has also been the basis for a book (Reed 2003), and five articles (Reed 2002, 2004, 2005a, 2005b, and 2008).

The videos selected for inclusion in EVIADA include Ge performances at political public relations events, a tourist-oriented festival, a funeral, and an anti-sorcery ritual. Also included is a Catholic baptism featuring transformations of ge music (getan) into hymns, and performances of various other musical genres.

The videos included here represent roughly 15% of the entire video collection shot during this field research trip in 1997. The complete video collection is just one part of a larger field collection, housed at the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music (Accession # 98-005-F), consisting of all field materials collected during this research trip. In addition to the full video collection, this collection consists of over forty hours of DAT recordings of performances, one hundred twenty hours of analog cassettes of interviews, hundreds of slides, five volumes of field notes, and other miscellany.

This collection is peer reviewed and available online in the EVIA Project Archive.

Image © The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Daniel Reed is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. Reed is author of Dan Ge Performance: Masks and Music in Contemporary Cote d'Ivoire (Indiana University Press 2003), co-author, with Gloria Gibson, of the CD-ROM Music and Culture of West Africa: The Straus Expedition (Indiana University Press 2002), and author of articles on various subjects involving West African music, ethnomusicology and folklore.

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