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CREATING MAMI WATA: An Interactive, Sensory Exhibition

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Abstract

In Africa and its diasporas, call and response is an enduring and widespread interactive performance tradition. To encourage such interactive, dialogic activity between audiences and objects in a museum, as guest curator of Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas I devised a number of exhibition strategies to create an exhibition as interactive and multisensorial as possible, using a theoretical and methodological approach I term sensiotics. This essay details various interactive dimensions and the importance of sensory experience, including notions of “re-creation,” “re-membering,” and “re-presentation,” and the challenges and objectives of this effort to engage and enlighten audiences.

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