"This is an extraordinarily original, powerfully argued book; provocative in the best sense of the word. The sheer juxtaposition of the terrible history of Zaire as painted by a Zairean popular artist who lived through some of the worst of it, the artist's precise and eloquent explications of his work, a bluntly factualist account of the events depicted, and Fabian's searching ethnographical commentary, without privileging any of these so different types of discourse over any of the others, raises some of the most fundamental and most difficult questions in history, art, and anthropology. Remembering the Present is a major step forward in both the presentation of cultural materials and in their analysis."Clifford Geertz
A unique style of painting developed among Zairean artists during the late colonial and postcolonial period. Often labeled "tourist-art," this emergent painting tradition has evolved considerably in recent years, moving beyond simple decorative landscape scenes to subjects of more indigenous interest. Fabian (chair, cultural anthropology and non-Western sociology, Univ. of Amsterdam) focuses on a remarkable cycle of 101 paintings that tells the modern history of Zaire from the perspective of artist Tshibumba Kanda Matulu. The volume is divided into two parts: the first reproduces the paintings together with Matulu's personal commentary, while the second offers the author's anthropological analyses of issues raised by Matulu's work. A unique study of an important development in modern African art that should be of great value to scholars, this is highly recommended for academic libraries; but it may be too narrowly focused for public libraries.Eugene C. Burt, Art Inst. of Seattle Lib.