(South African, b. 1968)
Wood, plastic tape (polyethylene, polypropylene, nylon, or vinyl), and iron
Overall: 140 x 43 x 39 cm (55 1/8 x 16 15/16 x 15 3/8 in.)
Purchased with funds donated by Scott Mueller 2018.4
© Kendell Geers
The underlying figure is much larger than minkisi figures were in the past; its "supersize" reflects that it is an object made for the tourist market, not for ritual use.
To create this sculpture, Kendell Geers appropriates a nkisi nkondi (singular) sculpture of the Kongo people that was mass-produced for the tourist market. Minkisi (plural) figures were typically used as protective relics; the nails on it represent the many times the object would have been ritually activated. Geers wraps the object with white and red chevron tape—the South African equivalent of yellow and black caution tape used in the US to mark off the scene of a crime—simultaneously signaling danger and acting as a shield. The artist’s deliberate use of the term fetish recalls African ritual objects’ fetishization as art and global commodities by the West since the turn of the 20th century. While once used in scholarship to describe African religious objects like nkisi, the word 'fetish' is now understood as both inaccurate and inappropriate.
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