Today in our 30 day world art tour, we are headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a work of contemporary art from artist Trigo Piula.
I’m so in love with this artwork. I’m a sucker for global artworks that have connections with past and present (and this one even throws in some great cultural, art historical references). Love it. I’ve got the annoying question mark image again and a small image. Even though this is an educational site, click over to one of these two links (one, two) to see the artwork bigger! Then come back and read on. 🙂
My Art History textbook has a really good description of this artwork, so I’m going to quote it in here. I really want you to come up with your own meaning first before you read anything about it.
Ta Tele Gabon depicts a group of Congolese citizens staring transfixed at colorful pictures of life beyond Africa displayed on 14 television screens. The TV images included references to travel to exotic places (such as Paris with the Eiffel Tower), sports events, love, the earth seen from a satellite, and Western worldly goods. A traditional Kongo power figure associated with warfare and divination stands at the composition’s center as a visual mediator between the anonymous foreground viewers and the multiple TV images. (Kleiner and Mamiya, page 956)
The power figure might look a little bit familiar if you’ve been following this site for a while. I wrote about the Nkisi Nkondi power figures from the Congo Basin in one of my first posts (5 Artworks to Intrigue your High Schooler)! I love these sculptures. They are usually wood and often have a hole in the stomach with a place to store medicines to help activate the magical aspects of the sculpture. That hole is often covered with a mirror. The artist, Piula, puts a TV in place of the mirror with an image of the power figure.
Taking all of that information into consideration, think more about the artwork using the following guiding questions.
Art Discussion Questions
- What is going on in this artwork? What do you see that makes you say that?
- What images do you notice on the tvs and on the back of the people’s heads? What do those images represent?
- Who are the people in the artwork? What do they value? Describe what you know about them based on what you see in the artwork?
- What is the function of the power figure in the center?
- What is the meaning or message? What is the artist trying to say?
Related Art Project Idea
This artwork is done from the perspective of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and their views on the Western world. How might you create a similar work but from the perspective of someone from the Western world. How do we view Africa?
That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the artwork in the comments. Click here to find more art from around the world, and come back tomorrow for a trip to China! Remember you can get the whole month of Art Around the World posts as a PDF eBook as a member of the Curated Connections Library!
Kleiner, Fred, and Christin Mamiya. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. 12th ed. Belmont: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2005. Print.