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Safe


2005
oil on Belgian linen, gilded wood and plaster, weathered wood, nails
144 x 84 x 18 inches

This is a lamentation on the continuing tragedy that is the Congo. No nails could keep them safe from King Leopold II. Weathered boards, tenuously placed, have thousands of nails, driven in an unsuccessful attempt to puncture the painting behind them, a colonially-pacified image of the Congo River, surrounded by an ostentatious trophy frame. The gilded frame holds clues to torture and exploitation: the leaves of a rubber plant, a chicotte (whip of rawhide), the mouth of a screaming hippo, and a diamond-and-dart motif.


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