Didier Claes-Press release
As part of his involvement in BRAFA, Didier Claes is presenting an impressive selection of “fetishes” from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The “Nkisi” exhibition focuses on the beauty of these “objects of power” which are among the best-known examples of Central African art and today can be found in various private and museum collections. These figures of power take the form of an anthropomorphic or zoomorphic statuette and each one has its own name, a specific function and a ritual to activate them. By adding elements from the animal, plant, mineral and/or metallurgical world, these objects would be “magically” charged. These ingredients or medicines allowed the minkisi (plural of nkisi) to perform their ritual function of divination and communicating with spirits and the spirit world. A nkisi becomes a “medium of spiritual communication” through the action of a diviner, nganga. The nganga was consulted by “patients” to solve specific problems affecting a community or an individual. The nkisi is used in times of illness, sterility, economic instability, political conflict or in taking revenge. The nkisi is ambivalent, as it can both cause evil and contain it. It can heal as well as attack.