I love this kind of stuff. I have no idea if this is a legit piece of Congolese art or not, but I don’t even care. Stuff like this excites me so, so much. I read a lot about Congolese power figures back in college when I was majoring in art – they seemed so much more visceral and real to me than a lot of contemporary American work. One thing that really stuck with me was this:
Those nails aren’t acts of violence. They’re prayers for strength. It’s a holdover from a time when metal was precious and rare, valued for its strength and durability. So this could be a statue of a warrior, and each nail pounded into his spirit is a prayer that he stays strong, that he doesn’t flinch, and that he can take whatever gets hammered into him.
I like that a LOT. I don’t even know if it’s true in a literal sense, either. And I don’t even want to know. That’s how faith and myth get formed – you hear something that works for you and moves you in this way that you need to be moved. It’s something that confirms your sense of wonder and beauty, usually. And then it doesn’t even matter how it got into your head or why it’s supposed to be there. Your head and your heart don’t care, you make a pearl out of it all the same.