An nkisi figure is an awe-inspiring object. The nails hammered into the body evoke disturbing sensations. Foremost is the sensation of pain whose distinct tactile quality Bob Rizzo’s “warrior” enforces in a dramatic and almost theatrical way.
Constructed from hundreds of found objects, Rizzo’s work belongs to a series of sculptures he calls “totems.” The term alludes to the realm of the primordial. It conjures images of an archaic, mythic past which he thinks we seem to have left behind but which still haunts us. Rizzo does not aim to rework the figure’s history but, rather, indulges in the colonial imagery of nkisi, most prominently, the image of nkisi as an object coming from the “heart of darkness.” In other words, The Warrior addresses the power of the fetish.
—Peter Probst, Professor of African Art and Visual Culture, Global Flows, Tufts University (2012)
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