BODYS ISEK KINGELEZ
MOMA, New York, 26 May to 21 October 2018
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