We Regret To Inform You

Videos and Images

Visit the Halsey Gallery site ( to watch a video and view more images of this piece.

Nkonde statue
African Artwork Connection

Aldwyth's sculpture, We Regret To Inform You, employs many qualities and characteristics found in "Nkonde" statues found in the Congolese region of Africa. The following passage explains these works in greater detail.
All statues possess magical powers but their roles varied according to their size. The largest, the Nkonde, standing between 0.90 and 1.20 meters high, appeared at collective ceremonies and were pierced with nails or metal blades. More of these were added after each vow of commitment, in order to give the illiterate public a way of ratifying their action. The fetishist acted first to "awaken" the Nkonde with his touch-part of the surface was left clear or nails for this purpose-and then a sharp blade or nail was set into the body of the statue, to remain there until the contract was completely fulfilled.
The fetishist was primarily a witness, and an important one in view of his supposed relationship with the world of the supernatural. Woe to anyone who failed to keep his promise! The Nkonde, as guardian of collective memory, would inflict sudden sickness on any defaulter, or even bring about his death, but he protected the innocent
Source: Black Africa, Masks Sculpture, Jewelry by Laure Meyer)

This video shows a movie trailer for "In Their Boots: We Regret to Inform You", about the lives of military widows and the struggles they have to deal with after they were given the news of their husbands' deaths. This shows how "we regret to inform you.." can be one of the most devestating phrases one hears in one's lifetime.


This is a link to an article published by US News. I thought that this article was interesting in the way it describes the difference between "hard" and "soft" rejection letters. I think that the different sizes and shapes of the nails driven into this piece represent these different kinds of rejection letters.

Finally, some rather general conclusions may be given:
1. The precise function of the Nkisi figures of the Lower Congo does not, and did not, in history,
implicate their particular forms and types, the assignments of the fetish being mostly oral and magical.

2. The artist carved the statuette ignorant of its function in terms of the fetish ritual, and therefore, he
was not able to illustrate the function realistically.

3. The final form and type of the Nkisi figure does not result (in opposition to the Western art of the
19th and 20th centuries) solely from the artist's vision and intention, but from the cooperation of both
the carver and the nganga and eventually the consumers as well, and is affected by the nganga's
comprehension of the carver's visual impulses. The artist's suggestions more or less regulate the
artistic completion of the figure, but do not intervene in its function.

4. Particular features of the morphology and of the types such as pose, gesture, and composition are
not psychological and realistic interpretations of the functional assignments of the figures, but have
traditional symbolic meanings.

5. Lower Congo has been exposed, since the 15th century, to strong European cultural impact. The
art of this area is often used to serve as an example of the thesis that Western influence expressed
itself in the realism of this art, in the choice of its motifs and character of its style. The Nkisi figures do
show the integration of some foreign elements and objects. On the
other hand, the evidence discussed in this study indicates that the figures did not undergo any
fundamental change in conception. It is the interpretation of them, rather than their own character,
which sometimes corresponds to the Western standpoint of the second half of the 19th century. The
Nkisi figures themselves, however, remained African."
Nkisi Figures of the Lower Congo
by Zdenka Volavkova

external image Nkisi_fig1-448x600.jpg
This was a really informative article, I would recommend reading the entire article to further understand the conclusions made by the author.