Set against the backdrop of Luanda, Angola, the young man depicted in Alfredo Jaar’s Angel evokes qualities associated with contemporary power objects responding to global inequalities. Before Jaar made the photograph, the subject spoke of the city’s economic struggles, yet emphasized that angels watched over Angolans. The boy’s raised hand is reminiscent of the pose of Central African power figures called nkisi nkondi, whose raised arms held spears or weapons. Other power objects on view in the exhibition address how people used them to call upon ancestors for guidance and protection. Here in the photograph, the young man is an analogous vehicle of power, gesturing toward invisible forces that will guide Angolans to prosperity.
Help us make our collections more accessible by providing keywords to describe this artwork. The BCMA uses the
Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus to
provide consistent keywords. Enter a keyword in the field below and you will be prompted with a list of possible matching AAT preferred terms.