Archive: Bodys Isek Kingelez

Aéromode (Aéroport Moderne), 1991. Plywood, paper, cardboard and mixed materials, 64 x 80 x 55 cm.

A sculptor’s vision of the city of the future.

  • Words Aindrea Emelife

I invite you to ask yourself: If you could model your own utopia, what would it look like? If you could be the architect of a society, what would you include, exclude, multiply and decrease? Could you envision a political and social transformation? 

Congolese artist Bodys Isek Kingelez took on this task with his beguiling and painstakingly intricate architectural sculptures, which he called “extreme maquettes.” He made hundreds of these metropolises from found materials, exercising society’s problems in cardboard and waste plastic and positing his view for the ideal society.

Born in 1948 in what was then the Belgian Congo—in an age of huge political and social transformation—Kingelez was 12 when his country gained its independence from the oppressive colonial regime. At 22, h...

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