BODYS ISEK KIN­GELEZ

MOMA, New York, 26 May to 21 Oc­to­ber 2018

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The ex­pan­sive show­ing of Con­golese sculp­tor Bodys Isek Kin­gelez at The Museum of Mod­ern Art (MOMA) in New York is no­table for two rea­sons. Firstly, it marks a ma­jor ret­ro­spec­tive of an artist who, while ac­claimed dur­ing his life­time, did not re­ceive the wide­spread recog­ni­tion that his work war­ranted. Se­condly, it is sig­nif­i­cant for be­ing the first-ever solo show of a black African artist to be held at MOMA.

As such, the ex­hi­bi­tion is very much about rec­ti­fy­ing these past omis­sions. ‘Our hope is that the project will help to lay the ground­work for fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tions of Bodys,’ ex­plains Sarah Suzuki, the ex­hi­bi­tion’s cu­ra­tor. ‘One of our early goals was to lo­cate and iden­tify as many works as pos­si­ble, to try to put to­gether a full picture and broader un­der­stand­ing of the oeu­vre.’

Bodys’ work takes the form of metic­u­lously de­tailed ar­chi­tec­tural mod­els con­structed from pa­per, card­board and plas­tic. Start­ing as sin­gle build­ings in the 1980s, the works sprawled in com­plex­ity over time to en­com­pass dra­matic, fully re­al­ized cities. ‘He didn’t do things by halves,’ Sarah ob­serves. ‘Ev­ery sur­face, ev­ery facet of his work is at­tended to and ar­tic­u­lated, em­bel­lished with a flag, or a logo or with a stripe of metal­lic tape. Even in­te­ri­ors that are not eas­ily vis­i­ble are of­ten dec­o­rated.’ For Bodys, the act of art mak­ing came with the so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity of fos­ter­ing a sense of hope for the fu­ture, through vi­su­al­iz­ing utopian African cities. ‘In their as­ton­ish­ing metic­u­lous­ness and joy­ful ma­te­ri­al­ity, these works speak to the com­plex­ity and am­bi­tion in­her­ent in Bodys’ pro­pos­als and vi­sions for the fu­ture,’ re­flects Sarah, adding, ‘We’re thrilled to have an op­por­tu­nity to share this in­cred­i­ble body of work with a new gen­er­a­tion of museum vis­i­tors.’

KIMBEMBELE IHUNGA, MADE FROM PA­PER, CARD­BOARD, POLYSTYRENE AND MIXED ME­DIA BE­LOW KIN­SHASA LA

BELLE, MADE FROM PA­PER AND VAR­I­OUS OTHER MA­TE­RI­ALS

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