Brussels is notable for its whimsical public art displays, including the world-famous Manneken Pis. Lesser known is the “Bandundu Water Jazz Band” in the Flemish Brabant city of Tervuren. The installation is located about eight miles from Brussels.
Created by Belgian artist Tom Frantzen, this sculptural fountain was installed in a roundabout and depicts various African water animals playing jazz. The band consists of crocodiles, frogs, a hippopotamus, pelican, lizard, and a turtle. The fountain is located opposite the Colonial Palace, which serves as an annex building for the Royal Museum for Central Africa.
The fountain features a circular motif to mimic discs rotating on a gramophone, including the water lilies that the animals stand on. The jazz band was intended to portray Africa’s influence on the various cultures of the world. During the winter, the fountain sometimes freezes over, beautifully decorating the sculptures with ice.
While the fountain itself is a delightful work of art, the savage history behind the installation cannot go unmentioned. Bandundu is the name of a city in the Congo, a former Belgian colony, which was mercilessly exploited during the reign of King Leopold II. He established the Royal Museum for Central Africa to promote his Congo Free State, even exhibiting a “human zoo.” In the end, around ten million residents of the Congo Free State were killed by Leopold II’s colonization.