Nkembo Moswala is an artist who specializes in “Nzoloko,” an ancestral practice of self-incision on the skin used by ancient Congolese tribes to identify themselves by a specific decorative motif. Nzoloko served aesthetic, therapeutic, and ritualistic purposes in ancient Congolese kingdoms. Through his art and creativity, Nkembo Moswala reappropriates this ancient practice to highlight the harmful and adverse effects of capitalist economy on African culture. He aims to show the world how his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been affected by the disasters of such an economical state.
In an attempt to promote Black culture in the USA, Nkembo Moswala takes on the role of artist and historian; his multi-disciplinary approach has one aim: to educate and inform the world about the impact of capitalist economy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nkembo combines various materials and mediums in producing some of the most visually appealing artwork. The incisions made on canvas depict the wounds endured by the citizens who are forced to live in a stressful society caused by an unbridled economy and consumption.
Nkembo Moswala completed his education in his hometown of Kinshasa, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. Talking about his artwork, Nkembo says: “I incise, perforate and brand on a tarpaulin. The spirit of my work is expressed by the light which is the raw material I extract and transform. It is the energy and the source that gives life to my installations. So, the work I do on the tarp is a way to channel and sculpt the light. I translate this technique by ‘NZOLOKO’; a word borrowed from a Congolese ancestral practice of self-inflicted incision on the skin for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes, i.e. scarification.”
Nkembo Moswala has received multiple awards for his unique art designs. Among them were the “Lorenzo Natali Media Prize” in the European Union, “Supreme Hand”, in England, and “Young and Bold African”, in England. He has held showcases across multiple parts of the world including the Congo, Canada, the United States, and Spain.
In addition, Nkembo has been able to obtain multiple funding streams for his extraordinary work – most recently being awarded the “2022 Culture and Inclusion” from the Quebec government and the “2019 Mobility Fund” from the Prince Claus Fund in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
His latest project, a seven-day immersive experience entitled, “The Congo: Art, History, & Violence,” features a mixture of history, current events, art, and experimentation. Participants will learn about the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, exploring ancient Congolese kingdoms, origins, practices, and art forms. The experience also addresses the impact of colonialism, war, and the exploitation of women in the context of the global economy.
This project is launched in partnership with the Cyrille Adoula Economic Empowerment Program, sponsored by Issata O. Inc.