MANA-the Power of Things investigates the myriad ways in which people around the world invest objects with special meaning or power. The power of objects is a familiar concept to the Maori people of New Zealand, who call it mana. There is no exact equivalent in other languages, but mana means something like "prestige". Objects with mana are as diverse as humanity itself, and may embody many different kinds of power and value-religious, artistic, economic, historical, or personal. But mana itself is universal-all people, all over the world, value or venerate something.
For example, a Rembrandt may have great importance for Europeans, as so does an eagle feather for Navajo people, or Elvis Presley for millions of rock music fans, the Shroud of Turin for Catholic pilgrims, elaborate costumes of voodoo priests for sub-saharan Africans, and Mercedes Benz automobiles for Malaysian Chinese. Even a child's favorite toy or an heirloom pocketwatch have mana. We present mana as a universal concept by revealing what these diverse precious objects have in common. Viewers (and readers) are invited to reflect on these interconnections, and on how mana influences all of us in our daily lives, usually without our awareness.
The Book will derive most of its visual source material from the film, using not only still photographs taken on location during the production, but also high-resolution enlargements taken directly from 140 hours of HD video footage. These will be complemented by accompanying texts, some adapted from transcripts of filmed interviews with people such as Professor Jan Kelch of the Berlin Gemäldegalerie and Te Warihi Heteraka, a Maori master of sacred carving techniques and an authority on the concept of Mana. Additional essays will be contributed by invited authors. To maximize impact with simultaneous cross-promotion, the book's publication and promotion will be coordinated with the film's distribution. The projected edition will be an estimated 200 pages in length, including over 100 color photographs distributed throughout, with editions in English, German and French.
Due the wide range of places visited, the exciting diversity of objects presented, the variety of approaches taken, and above all the universality and appeal of the mana phenomenon itself, both book and film will have a long "life." The general public as well as people interested in art history, geography, religion, philosophy, cultural diversity, economics, and psychology will enjoy the material.
The Book will include essays such as the following:
Jenifer P. Borum, author of Folk Erotica: Centuries of Erotic American Folk Art, and of principal texts for Virgin Destroyer: Manuel Ocampo; ABCD: A Collection of Art Brut; and Souls Grown Deep: African-American Vernacular Art of the South; art critic for Artforum magazine, Raw Vision, New Art Examiner, The Journal of Art, and Art and Antiques: KRISTIN HERSH'S GUITAR PICK, THROWING MUSES SET LISTS, PATTI SMITH'S SPIT, BESSIE HARVEY'S LIVING ROOM, MICHALE STIPE'S HAT, MY GREAT GRANDFATHER'S TEMPLAR CROSS, A PIGEON FEATHER, AN EX GIRLFRIEND'S QUILT
Roger Cardinal, Professor of Art History at the University of Kent at Canterbury; author of Outsider Art, Breton: Nadja, Cultures of Collecting, Figures of Reality: A Perspective on the Poetic Imagination, German Romantics in Context, Caspar David Friedrich, Surrealism: Permanent Revelation. Currently writing about paleolithic art and tribal objects: THE ELOQUENCE OF OBJECTS
Laurent Danchin, curator, teacher, and author of Jean Dubuffet; L'art contemporain, et après...; Art brut et compagnie: La face cachée de l'art contemporain: MÉDITATION SUR LE PONT ST CHARLES
Henry John Drewel, Curator of the Elvehjem Museum of Art, and author of Beads, Body and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universa, Gelede: Art and Female Power; and Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought. WHIRLING CLOTH, BREEZE OF BLESSING: ANCESTRAL MASQUERADE PERFORMANCES AMONG THE YORUBA (about the revenants of Benin, featured in the film MANA--beyond belief).
Caroline Eyler, Curator and director of University of Southern Maine Art Gallery, curator of Alexander Archipenko estate, and of exhibitions including When Horses have Wings: Tibetan Artists in Exile; Virtual Shooter; Natural/Cultural Landscapes: The Environmental Sculpture of Alan Sonfist and Portia Munson: Along the Garden Path: THE POWER OF BEING: A PERSONAL JOURNEY IN Karmê Chöling, BUDDHIST HOLY SITE
Paul Faulstich, Professor of Environmental Studies at Claremont Colleges; author of Geophilia: Landscape and Humanity, The Presence of the Absence of Nature, and Dreaming Place: Land and Myth at Nyirripi: SACRED PLACES.
Peter Friedman, filmmaker and co-director of MANA; Friedman's film Death by Design deals with a subject never before addressed in a cinematic way by serious independent filmmakers--contemporary cell biology. This film shows how our bodies are continually created and destroyed by actors in a parallel world we ordinarily ignore. The professional film journal Variety said Death by Design "belongs to that category of films which can alter the way viewers look at the world around them." The Museum of Modern Art showed it in their Cineprobe series, both ARTE and PBS broadcast it several times as a prime-time special, and it was broadcast in nearly 30 other countries. It won the Prix-Europa in Berlin for Non-Fiction TV Program of the Year in a competition open to all films broadcast in Europe including, for example, the entire output of the BBC. It also won 10 major awards in the US, Canada, France, and Switzerland. Friedman's other films include Silverlake Life and The Life and Times of Life and Times.
Nedim Gürsel, Turkish novelist; author of Les Turbans de Venise, La Primma Donna, and Una Lunga Estate a Istanbul. [ESSAY TITLE TO BE ANNOUNCED]
Te Warihi Heteraka, North Island New Zealand Maori tehunga or carver/priest; expert native-born authority on mana from the culture which recognized, named and described the concept, and fellow of the Daetz Foundation, Lichenstein, Germany: THE MEANING OF MANA FROM A MAORI PERSPECTIVE (he appears in the MANA--beyond belief film)
Jan Kelch, Professor and Director of the Berlin Gemäldegalerie; author of Rembrandt: The Master and His Workshop, and Hollandische Malerei aus Berliner Privatbesitz: DEATH-RAYS: THE FALL OF 'DER MANN IN DEM GOLDHELM' (about the former Rembrandt painting featured in the film MANA--beyond belief in which he appears)
Susannah Koerber, chief curator of the Art Museum of Western Virginia and curatorial associate of High Museum of Art, Atlanta: THE WORD MADE CONCRETE: RELIGIOUS SHRINES
Lucy Lippard, author of Overlay--Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory, Pop Art, Eva Hesse, A Different War: Vietnam in Art, Partial Recall--Photographs of Native North Americans, On the Beaten Track--Tourism, Art and Place, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966-1972, and Living Shrines: Home Altars of New Mexico: OBJECTS AND PERMANENCE IN THE ATOMIC AGE
Stephen Litt, art and architecture critic for The Cleveland Plain Dealer: THE AMELIORATED ENCOUNTER: VIRTUAL REALITY VS. REAL THINGS
Roger Manley, curator and photographer and co-director of MANA. As a curator with an extensive museum background, Manley has assembled dozens of exhibitions ranging from outsider art, Australian Aboriginal traditions and Native American cultures to modern industrial design. As a trained folklorist, he has authored books like Signs and Wonders, Self-Made Worlds, and The Tree of Life, which investigate how knowledge is received, interpreted creatively, and passed on. His last book, The End is Near!, includes original texts contributed by thinkers as diverse as Stephen Jay Gould, Adam Parfrey, Howard Finster and the Dalai Lama, to explore the variety of ways individuals have dealt with the concept of mortality and the passage of time. Finally, Manley also is an experienced screenwriter, with several award-winning films broadcast on PBS.
Tom Patterson, author of St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan and Howard
Finster, Stranger from Another World, co-author of Pictured in My Mind, Wonders to Behold: FIVE STONES
Malcolm Peri, Maori counsellor and political leader from North Island of New Zealand, and introductory narrator of film MANA--beyond belief: PERSONAL MANA AND PRIVATE MEANINGS
Colin Rhodes, Director of the College of Art and Design at Loughborough University; author of Private Worlds: Outsider and Visionary Art; L'Art outsider: Art brut et création hors normes au XXe siècle; and Le Primitivisme et l'art moderne: REHABILITATION, RESCUE AND THE UNEXPECTABLE POWERFUL OBJECT
Cecile Rossant, fiction writer (We Came Upon, Horizontal Drainage, Infatuation and member of THP Architekten Berlin: ABOUT FACE
C.D. Wright, Professor of literature at Harvard University and Brown University; author of Translation of the Gospel Back Into Tongues, and String Light. [TWO POEMS]
Peter Zabielskis, Cultural Anthropologist at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science; author of Mandailing, and currently at work on a book about the Malay and Chinese cultures of Penang (which are featured in the film MANA--beyond belief): THE BURNING BRIDGE: HOKKIEN GATE TO THE BEYOND