Ici on crève ("We're Dying Here")
Arts of Africa
On View: Double Take Installation, East Gallery, 1st Floor
ART OF POWER
Although art has historically glorified the powerful, it can also be a means of communication and expression for those without power. These Congolese works represent opposite ends of the social spectrum.
The mwaash aMbooy mask is emblematic of royal power and prestige for the Kuba kingdom of the central Congo. It represents Woot, the founding hero from whom the Kuba trace their descent, and is worn only by the king (nyim) or by local chiefs. In both its dance and as a sculpture, it is a vision of gravity and composure.
The contemporary portraits by Aimé Mpane, in turn, depict the struggles of those without access to power. They show ordinary citizens of Kinshasa, along with representations of their fears and desires. The artist carves these images from plywood, turning two-dimensional surfaces into works filled with light and shadow (suggesting both presence and absence) that animate the stories of the dispossessed.
Paint, wood, mixed media
each panel: 12 1/2 x 12 in. (31.8 x 30.5 cm) (show scale)
Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund
© Aimé Mpane
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Aimé Mpane (Congolese, born 1968). Ici on crève ("We're Dying Here"), 2006-2008. Paint, wood, mixed media, each panel: 12 1/2 x 12 in. (31.8 x 30.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Caroline A.L. Pratt Fund, 2012.47a-m. © Aimé Mpane
installation, DIG_E_2014_Double_Take_African_Innovations_04_2012.47a-m_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2014
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