TRANSFIGURED WORLDS: KONGO POWER FIGURE AND BRUGUERA'S DISPLACEMENT COSTUME
On loan from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum, an arresting Nkisi Nkondi figure is displayed in a gallery adjacent to African Art and Culture: Selections from the Collection of the Neuberger Museum of Art. Its presence places the sculpture within the broader context of Congo culture that is well represented in the Neuberger's permanent collection.
Moreover the display of the Nkisi Nkondi figure serves as a visual reference to Tania Bruguera's work Displacement (1998-99) in which the artist impersonates the African icon in a costume of her own design.
As Joseph Adande, a scholar from the Republic of Benin, writes "African artists on and off the continent continue to invoke its [African] power. African art transfigures worlds."
Tania Bruguera embodies a Nkisi Nkondi icon during her performance Displacement.
In the performance, the icon--a costumed performer--stands still for several hours, then stirs, eventually going out into the streets looking for those who have broken their promises. Read more about Displacement.
Nkisi Nkondi, Kongo power figures, stand as aggressive-looking figures with a profusion of nails and blades. Such figures inspire awe, respect, and fear. Nails and blades are driven into the figure either to affirm an oath or to destroy an evil force responsible for an affliction or disruption of the community. Each time the spirit of the Nkondi is called upon, a nail or blade is pounded into the figure. Read more about Nkisi Nkondi.
Transfigured Worlds is on view January 28-April 11, 2010 and was organized by Marie-Thérèse Brincard, Curatorial Advisor, African Art.