New York’s Museum of Modern Art has just opened City Dreams — a retrospective of the futuristic architectural imaginings of the late Congolese artist Bodys Isek Kingelez, and it looks incredible. At the exhibition, Kingelez’ ‘extreme maquettes’ of entire African cities are celebrated as sculptures, and investigated for their intense study of how an African city of the future could work, and look.
Kingelez uses everyday materials and found objects, such as tin cans and bottle tops, to create his extraordinary over-the-top cityscapes. Some of them respond to crises affecting his life at the time, such as The Scientific Centre of Hospitilisation The Sida (1991), and others explore pure architecture in folly, form and structure.
“A visionary is someone who dreams of what doesn’t exist yet. He has to make feasible what he has seen. You have to respect the vision. That’s the principle of art.” —Bodys Isek Kingelez … As Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) rapidly redefined itself following independence from Belgium in the late 1970s, Kingelez created his own version of utopia, illustrated through intricately constructed sculptures of miniature buildings and cities. His vision for the future is now on view in #KingelezCityDreams. … [Artwork details: Bodys Isek Kingelez. “Reveillon Fédéral.” 1992. Paper, paperboard, and other various materials. CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva. © Bodys Isek Kingelez. Photo: Carly Gaebe / Steadfast Studio]
‘Without a model, you are nowhere,’ the artist once said, adding, ‘a nation that can’t make models is a nation that doesn’t understand things; a nation that doesn’t live.’
Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams is on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York until 1 January 2019.