Cover Photo: Bodys Isek Kingelez

“Without a model, you are nowhere. A nation that can’t make models is a nation that doesn’t understand things, a nation that doesn’t live.” - Bodys Isek Kingelez

One day recently I discovered that my kids were secretly grabbing trash out of the recycling bin and hiding it under the sink in their bathroom. We're talking plastic orange juice bottles, aluminum cans, toilet tissue rolls, etc. When asked why, the kids responded that they needed all of it to build a machine that they'd been designing. Like, duh, Dad! Of course that's what it was for! I obviously couldn't let the kids continue to stockpile sticky, greasy recyclables in their sink cabinet, so we gathered it all up and took it back out to the recycling bin.

My wife and I visited MoMA in New York fall of 2019. One of the exhibits was a retrospective from a Zaire-born artist named Bodys Isek Kingelez (1948-2015). His work, as evidenced by the cover art on this site, is built from found objects that he transformed into intricate and whimsical, small scale building models and cityscapes of vibrantly textured beauty. Kingelez took what everyone else saw as trash and imagined a colorful utopia where the architecture reflected the diverse creativity of its inhabitants.

Bodys Isek Kingelez. Kimbembele Ihunga. 1994. Paper, cardboard, polystyrene, mixed media, 51 3/16 × 72 13/16 × 126" (130 × 185 × 320 cm). CAAC - The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva. © Bodys Isek Kingelez. Photo: Maurice Aeschimann. Courtesy CAAC - The Pigozzi Collection

As a parent, I find myself trying to mold my kinds into what I think is best for them. It's what most parents do, right? I can't have them turn into hoarders with ant-infested bathrooms, because they decided they wanted to build a go-kart using empty soda cans. Right? What if instead, I had carved out a space in the garage for them to accumulate all of the trash they needed and told them that I'd love to schedule a weekend where we could sit around and tinker on a project together? What if I allowed my kids to imagine something new and beautiful to be done with that stuff? What if I stopped trying to take control and started to listen to them and value them for who they are and not what I want them to be?

What I loved about the Kingelez exhibit was walking around all of those models and being transported into a place where one could be fully present, yet still dare to envision a more beautiful future uninhibited by what we think things 'should' look like and free to imagine what things 'could' look like.


Popular Posts



Email *

Message *