Outrage poured in from around the world when news broke that a musician’s priceless instrument was destroyed by Transportation Security Administration officials in the United States. Ballaké Sissoko shared photos of the broken pieces of his kora, a traditional West African instrument that resembles a harp, to social media yesterday afternoon, February 5. When the Malian musician arrived at his destination in Paris on February 4, he opened up the case to find the rare instrument shattered and a Spanish-language TSA note saying they had gone through his belongings.
US Customs officials destroyed renowned Mali musician Ballaké Sissoko’s kora. pic.twitter.com/NxXIQthUec
— luso mnthali (@malabousaza) February 5, 2020
Although it’s unclear when exactly Sissoko’s kora was destroyed in transit, the damage is extensive and possibly irreversible. His kora had been custom made to his specifications. As the statement posted to his Facebook account explains, “Even if all the components that have been disassembled were intact, it takes weeks before a kora of this calibre can return to its previous state of resonance. These kinds of custom-made koras are simply impossible to replace.”
Sissoko had just completed a successful 2-week cross-country tour with his band, 3MA, when he returned home to Paris to rest. The next day, he opened the case to the horrific scene with the TSA note apologizing for the inconvenience.
The Facebook statement raised questions as to whether TSA would have taken apart a more western instrument, or was this especially egregious act only happened to musicians of African heritage. “In Mali, the jihadists threaten to destroy musical instruments, cut the tongues out of singers, and silence Mali’s great musical heritage,” said Sissoko’s statement. “And yet, ironically, it is the USA customs that have in their own way managed to do this.”
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
Vivan Sundaram, Veteran Indian Contemporary Artist, Dies at 79
Sundaram is celebrated for his multidisciplinary studio practice steeped in activism and political consciousness.
What’s Iconoclastic About a Blackface Madonna?
Artist Tony Rave’s work comes to remind us that piety is not strictly White.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
The Most Stirring Press Photographs of 2022
Photographs captured war-torn Ukraine, the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, and an Iranian woman defying the mandatory hijab law.
NY Governor’s Proposed Budget Slashes Pandemic-Era Arts Funds
The cuts to the New York State Council on the Arts budget are attributed to the expiration of pandemic relief programs, but advocates say arts organizations need more support.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
MoMA Apologizes for Kicking Out Black Artist From Installation
Museum security asked Heather Agyepong to leave the installation Black Power Naps, meant as a safe space for Black people, after a White visitor called her “aggressive.”
New York’s BIPOC-Led Arts Orgs Are Grossly Underfunded
Proposed cuts to arts funding across the state would hit entities of color the hardest.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
New Directors/New Films Festival Takes an Experimental Turn
A host of documentaries exemplify ND/NF’s unconventional programming philosophy.
Memories So Fair and Bright
Kimetha Vanderveen’s paintings are about the interaction of materiality and light, the bond between the palpable and ephemeral world in which we live.