Kongo across the Waters

Update: Opens today!

The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida is working together with the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA Tervuren) to display and travel the first exhibition in the United States to deeply explore the legacy of Kongo culture. Kongo across the Waters, opening first at the Harn Museum on October 22, 2013, will present more than 160 works of historic and contemporary art and artifacts—including loans from the Royal Museum for Central Africa that have never been on display in the United States and several never before exhibited archaeological discoveries—spanning more than five centuries from the late 15th century when Kongo first emerged as a major Atlantic presence, to the present day. Accompanying the exhibition are a richly-illustrated book and international conference documenting and analyzing milestones in the history of African presence in North America.

From the exhibit website:

Kongo across the Waters was developed to highlight a milestone in the history of African presence in North America and provide an important complement to Viva Florida 500, a program commemorating 500 years of European presence in Florida. The Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León who arrived on La Florida in April 1513 counted among his crew members two free African men. This means that the first Europeans and the first Africans in North America arrived simultaneously, a fact of great historical and symbolic significance.

From the press release:

The exhibition will showcase recent works by Steve Bandoma, Edouard Duval-Carrié, José Bedia, Renée Stout, and Radcliffe Bailey, artists who draw from the Kongo artistic tradition. Among the recent works included in the show is Renée Stout’s Self Portrait #2 (Self-Portrait as Inkisi) and Radcliffe Bailey’s Returnal, a 2007 work that was damaged in New York during Hurricane Sandy. This will be the work’s first public viewing following a restoration that was overseen by the artist.

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