Body Isek Kingelez' "Extreme Maquettes": A Creole Envisioning of Decolonial Monuments

Sandrine Colard

 © Julien De Bock - Bodys Isek Kingelez, detail from
© Julien De Bock - Bodys Isek Kingelez, detail from "Ville Fantôme," 1996

Focusing on the first two decades of Bodys Isek Kingelez' production (1980-1997), this talk by Sandrine Colard explores how the Congolese artist’s oeuvre developed in dialogue with the idea of monument in Africa’s decolonization era. Famous for what he called his “extreme maquettes,” Kingelez’ models radically diverged from the tradition of monumentalization in size, aesthetic, and materiality. Yet, in his long-term commitment to the reinvention of urban public space and allegorical structures, the artist’s reduced scale, paper thin yet aesthetically flamboyant “maquette-monuments” offer a conceptual recast of the built embodiment of fundamental values for decolonial societies. In two decades of a reclusive life in Kinshasa, Kingelez created hundreds of maquettes that mobilized such a hybrid array of international influences that his structures can be seen as “creole monuments,” not just for the African continent but for the world.

Drawing on Edouard Glissant’s theory of créolité and archipelagic thinking, this presentation examines how Kingelez’ “enormous insurrection of imaginary faculties” materialized renewed visions that subtracted permanence, figuration, stability of meaning and identity to the idea of the monument.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023
CIVA, Rue de l'Ermitage 55, 1050 Brussels
KANAL - Centre Pompidou / Living Traces & Twenty Nine Studio. With the support of Brussels 2030.


Talk in English.