Web Analytics

John Turner's New Book on Carved Coconut Heads

  • Sharebar

A new book by John Turner shines a light on a little known area of untaught expression – the carved coconut heads that originated from the South Sea islands. Available to purchase on Amazon here.


So we’re free to consider the carved coconut heads with the same innocent delight, cynical criticality, or utter disinterest with which we approach a Koons ornament — or the Mona Lisa for that matter. But here another layer of complexity emerges. While carved coconut heads have been and continue to be mass-produced they — unlike a cast plastic hula dancer figurine or silk-screened souvenir throw-cushion — are subject to considerable organic variation, even at their most assembly-line uniformity. And the carved coconut heads in this collection are about as far from industrial as you can get.

Running the gamut from absurd caricatures to mimetic likenesses, from nightmarish grotesques to archetypal icons, the Turner coconut endowment — while undeniably including tchotchkes created for the tourist trade — paradoxically encompasses a bafflingly encyclopedic array of sculptural and painterly strategies and conceptual approaches to the depiction of a (usually human) head. This wild heterogeny underscores the complexity of the conditions under which a genuine folk art — reflecting the global consumerist culture that now encompasses our planet — may come into being.