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Contemporary art

Sammy Baloji. The Slaughterhouse of Dreams or the First Human, Bende’s Error

45 min visit

Galerie Imane Fares
10 Sep → 6 Mar 2021
From Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 7 pm. Closed Monday and Sunday.

« Manipulate time and space, Congolese history and traditions »

Since 2005, Sammy Baloji has been fascinated by the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Between colonial archives and art, his work is right in the middle of the current events of the forced removal of statues of colonists and slavers. Himself Congolese, the artist does not stop mixing plastic mediums, going back and forth between tradition and modernity. For example, his digital collages printed on mirrors refer to mirrors inlaid with n'kisi divinatory figures. He is also interested in a 1939 photographic background by the German ethnologist Hans Himmelheber. During his trip to the Congo, the latter captured the inhabitants of the country and considered them as his equal. Sammy Baloji takes these photos and mixes them with X-ray images of objects made by the ethnologist. There is also a film that is presented on a touch screen that shows a performance by the artist: he reads a kasala, a luba poem, which allows the celebration of a disappeared being by mixing genealogy, mythology, cosmology and history. This traditional theatrical cult is read at the opening of the exhibition "Fiction Congo - Art worlds between past and present" at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich. It decontextualizes the Congolese traditions, which it reshapes in its own way and which the spectator can also reshape: the touch screen allows you to put the pieces of the poem back in any order you wish. It's up to you to rewrite History! As for the photographic archives used, they allow us to understand the pain of the Congolese miners, whose work is moreover indispensable to the creation of the touch screen. Sammy Baloji's video works, installations and photographs show how Congolese freedom was manipulated by Belgium, and more generally how Western societies distorted the identity of colonized countries.


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