Article in Focus: “Sculpture of colonial officer’s ‘angry spirit’ returns to DRC as Dutch urge reckoning”

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will loan a wooden sculpture of Belgian colonial officer Maximilien Balot to a gallery in Lusanga, DRC, during the Venice Biennale to spark discussions on colonial art.

A wooden sculpture of a Belgian colonial officer, Maximilien Balot, will be displayed at the Dutch pavilion during the Venice Biennale. The sculpture, acquired by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), will be loaned to a gallery in Lusanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), aiming to spark discussions on colonial aspects in the art world.

The sculpture, created shortly after Balot’s death, symbolizes resistance and represents the spirit of the deceased officer. Acquired in 2015 from Herbert Weiss, the sculpture underscores the complexities of colonial legacies and the ongoing dialogue on restitution and reconciliation. The Dutch pavilion will also feature sculptures made from palm oil, sugar, and chocolate that narrate the Pende uprising, urging reflection on the deep-seated impacts of colonialism.

The exhibition aims to challenge and inspire a new phase of partnerships between museums across continents, addressing and rectifying long-standing injustices stemming from colonial exploitation and fostering a more inclusive and reflective art world.

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Source: The Guardian

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