Nailed Knowledge Fetishes
Nkisi N'Kondi is a Congo
phrase for a power figure, the African name for sculptural artworks westerners
call " nail fetishes". These generally are small statues of human form,
containing a spiritual energy bundle secreted in a cavity or container
in the statue. The energy is activated when the wooden statue is ritually
pierced by a nail or other sharp object.
Prior to the
LAW sculpture in 1994, I
was making objects from books. I began by burning, chopping, soaking, piercing,
chaining and binding law books, history books, dictionaries, encyclopedias
and scientific reference books to transform them beyond their mundane existence.
Like their African namesakes, the books incorporate the energy into their
altered form and now have meanings beyond their original state.
Intellectual Power Tools
Power Tools started when I attached a shovel handle to a previously epoxied
book. I attached ax, hammer and pick handles to other objects of intellectual
activity such as phones, typewriters, cameras and computer keyboards. The
gestural communication from the tool handle to the viewer's body couple
with the conceptual meaning of the phone, book, or keyboard "tool head".
Heavy layers of paint emotionally color and elevate the object from material
portmanteau to immaterial symbol.
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