100 x Congo
Hanzestedenplaats 1, Antwerp
03/10/2020 – 28/03/2021
This year, various museums and places in Antwerp would be dedicated to Congo. This has all been shaken up by a certain virus. Unfortunately for the years of preparation. In the MAS, the guides have been preparing for this exhibition for years. There were workshops and lectures that had to prepare us for a loaded topic. The time has finally come: the expo is open to the public and it is beautiful.
Do you want a nice addition to this exhibition? Then you can also visit the book exhibition in the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. I guide both exhibitions, so feel free to contact me for a guided tour.
100 years ago, the city of Antwerp bought a large collection of Congolese cultural objects. To remember this, 100 objects were put in the spotlight in this exhibition. These are central to the space. The contacts between Antwerp and Congo throughout time are depicted all around: from the sixteenth century to missionaries in the last century. Many questions are asked in this exhibition and we hope that during and after the exhibition the image surrounding these contacts and Congo will be deepened and questioned.
Nkisi Nkondi of chef Ne Kuko
The most important object for me in this exhibition is the power statue (nkisi nkondi) which people could see at the world exhibitions. It can be found in this exhibition, is explained in the Heritage Library exhibition and is on loan from the AfricaMuseum in Tervuren. The Belgian Alexander Delcommune stole the statue in 1878 from Ne Kuko, a Congo chief. The chef wanted to pay a ransom for it, but Delcommune took it to Belgium where it was exhibited at the 1885 World Fair in Antwerp. Later it ended up in the Museum of the Belgian Congo (the predecessor of the Africa Museum) in Tervuren. Two more requests were made to return the statue to Congo. The debate about the restitution of Congolese art can be held in full here.
For this exhibition there were collaborations with Congolese researchers and artists. You notice this when you enter, with the work of Chéri Samba and his tribute to the old masters. At the end you will find the film ‘In Many Hands’ in which 25 people take a look at the Congolese collection in Antwerp. You can view it in the exhibition, but also in the pavilion at the bottom of the MAS.
The last object of the exhibition is a grave statue of a guardian. He is a fumani, a thinking chief who cares about the future of his family and clan. Upon his death, it became his double who remained on the watch. It reminds me of Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’. On the wall opposite the object is a question, are you thinking along?
100 x Congo
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