Linda Rodriguez

  • “Kongo: Power and Majesty”

    LOOKING AT elephant tusks in the exhibition “Kongo: Power and Majesty,” we began to see so much more than was at first visible: Carvings in a sixteenth-century specimen intersect in elaborate looping knots around spiraling bands, while in another—this one from the late nineteenth century—men are chained together and walking atop similar spirals. This shift from abstraction to figuration underscores an aesthetic imperative to depict the tragedy of colonialism and slavery that, in four centuries, would enslave and displace five million individuals from West Central Africa, out of twelve