previews

New York

“Bodys Isek Kingelez: City Dreams”

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
May 26 - January 1

Curated by Sarah Suzuki with Hillary Reder

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 trajectory ever since. The bright colors and ludic energy recall certain other Congolese artists—Chéri Samba, for instance—but Kingelez, who came to European notice in the influential 1989 Paris group exhibition “Magiciens de la terre” at the Centre Pompidou, was his own man: an urbanist and dreamer whose understudied oeuvre makes an unexpected but fascinating choice for a major MoMA retrospective.