Los Angeles County Museum Of Art Inaugurates African Gallery

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Royal Museum for Central Africa, RG 22725, photo R. Asselberghs, RMCA Tervuren

The Los Angeles County Museum Of Art is inaugurating its new Africa gallery with an exhibition of art from the Luba Kingdom.

“Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa” examines the royal art of the powerful Luba Kingdom, which from 1585-1889 dominated central Africa. Its royal lineage was highly regarded and developed an elaborate artwork to reflect its prestige.
The exhibition includes many objects loaned by the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium, like this mask of a legendary hero. Many of the items depict women. While they didn’t rule, they were considered the spiritual guardians of the kingship and the creators of life. A Luba proverb says, “Men are chiefs in the daytime, but women are chiefs at night.” Among the works of art are masks, headrests, sceptres, thrones and cups.

The new Africa gallery is located next to the Egyptian gallery to highlight the influences the two regions had on one another. In addition to special exhibitions, the gallery will also host the museum’s permanent collection.

“Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum for Central Africa” runs until January 5, 2014.

Vice produces guide to Congo


It wouldn’t surprise me if Suroosh Avi ends up dead at the end of this series. A host and founder of the well respected Vice TV, Mr Avi recently made his way to The Democratic Republic of Congo — specifically, the conflict-ridden East Congo — to document the mineral trade currently pummeling the country.

Rich in a whole host of minerals that the rest of the world needs, regions of East Congo have been violently contested, with political, big business and humanitarian efforts pulling in all directions. The result is a country still entrenched in the past, with many workers surviving on scraps and widespread poverty

Vice begins their outstanding series in the segment above. The remainder of the series can be found on their site.

Travelers chronicle epic road trip through the Congo

Africa’s Democratic Republic of the Congo has earned a legendary reputation among travelers. This war-torn African nation was once the stomping grounds of the famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley (Dr. Livingstone, I presume?) not to mention the setting for well-known books including Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Tim Butcher’s Blood River. This infamous history was apparently no threat to Belgian travelers Josephine and Frederik, who undertook a road trip across the Congo earlier this fall in a well-worn Toyota Land Cruiser.

Josephine and Frederik’s tale actually doesn’t begin in the Congo – it begins in Belgium. In 2006, the wanderlusting couple decided they wanted to drive around the world, bought a Land Cruiser, and began their trip in Brussels, traversing their way across much of Asia and Africa in the process.

Though the pair had driven thousands of miles before reaching the Congo, their epic trip from the Southeastern Congo town of Lubumbashi to the capital at Kinshasa was a feat for many reasons. Due to more than 50 years of on-and-off war, the country’s infrastructure is in terrible shape. Roads, where they exist at all, are not much more than dirt tracks. Maps are inaccurate. And the Congo is notorious for its corrupt military and government, meaning the pair would be shelling out plenty of bribes and “taxes” along the way. Yet somehow, with a little bit of luck, plenty of supplies and a whole lot of bravado, the pair made it through the trip. The 14 page chronicle of their trip is an epic read…full of adventure and plenty of mishaps.

The reader questions and comments interspersed with Josephine and Frederik’s chronicle are telling. How did you do it? What was it like? Is it irresponsible to travel through a recently war-torn country? Each of these questions has contradictory answers, none of which is resolved easily. With a trip this epic – it’s up to the reader to form their own judgment. Grab yourself a comfortable seat and give this travelogue a read – you won’t be disappointed.

[Flickr photo by whiteafrican]

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