Siddhartha Mitter

  • BRICK BY BRICK

    “I WANT EVERYONE in Congress to visit here,” John Lewis told the audience gathered on a mild Saturday in February to celebrate the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum—the new institution in Jackson that tells, in considerable detail, the history of racial oppression and resistance in this state, a bedrock of the freedom struggle.

    Two months earlier, the museum’s official inauguration had come under a pall when Donald Trump decided to show up, having been invited by Mississippi’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant. Lewis, the beloved civil rights hero and congressman from Georgia, had refused to

  • diary May 29, 2018

    Summit in Senegal

    THE RAP ON SOME BIENNIALS is that they don’t engage enough with the city that hosts them. There was no such problem at Dak’Art 2018, the thirteenth edition of Africa’s oldest and most prominent biennial. Jam-packed into one month—May 3rd to June 2nd—the thing was gargantuan, spreading across Senegal’s capital and beyond. Dakar’s old downtown, with its mix of colonial and postindependence buildings, was home to the main exhibition, organized by the Cameroonian scholar Simon Njami, who also directed the 2016 edition. Five exhibitions by guest curators, plus several country-focused shows (Egypt,

  • “Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams”

    The idiosyncratic sculptor Bodys Isek Kingelez, who died in 2015, made detailed miniatures of urban structures—first buildings, and later entire cityscapes—inspired partly by Kinshasa and other cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and partly by his own fertile imagination of more elegant, efficacious, and progressive ways of living. The work is less Afrofuturism than documentation of an alternative present, tracking the period when the country was called Zaire, under the kleptocratic dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and its convulsive