The colonial traces remain alive in our societies and determine, consciously or not, the conduct of those who have been impacted by them. It is in response to this that « Congoville » is initiated, an artistic event that takes place from May 29 to October 03, 2021 at the Middelheim Museum and the University of Antwerp under the direction of Sandrine Colard.
The approach is therefore to be able to study the stigma of colonization and allow the current generation to better understand the colonial history through contemporary artists who take a critical look at this dark page of Congolese history.
Presented in the form of an imaginary city, « Congoville » is a project that presents a colonial education in a museum erected on a site that includes a park, a school building, a place of attraction and entertainment.
« Congoville » is also an opportunity to make the public understand that colonial traces still persist in our societies, sometimes in the form of street names or avenues, monuments and statutes that adorn our cities, architectural heritage, colonial myths, etc…
« Congoville » is about fifteen international artists who, through their talent, will revive the colonial past and make visitors aware of the importance of the influence of the traces left by colonization. This work will contribute to the re-focusing of historical research on the knowledge of the colonial period in the form of an exhibition catalog, various interviews etc…
The participating artists
Various international artists will question this colonial past in the wonderful Middelheim sculpture park.
Sammy Baloji is a photographer of Congolese origin who works in Lubumbashi and Brussels. He is preoccupied with issues related to ethnographic exploitation, architecture and urbanism. His works are oriented towards the protection of the environment and the urban landscape.
Using several mediums, including photographs, sculptures, archives and videos to express his art, he frequently questions the colonial legacy of his country, the Congo.
Based in South Africa, Maurice Mbikayi is a Congolese artist whose work focuses on the impact of the technological revolution on life.
He examines the influence of digital discoveries on the notion of racial and ethnic identity. It is an approach that, for him, allows him to question everyone.
Jean Katambayi Mukendi
Working on the different sources of physical or spiritual energy, Jean Katambayi is a Congolese artist whose works highlight the inequalities and imbalances of life.
Anchored in the sharing of knowledge and the awakening of consciousness, the artist puts his art and his know-how at the service of the community. He is also looking for solutions to the energy deficit his country is suffering from.
A major figure in contemporary art in Ghana, Ibrahim Mahama suggests relationships between space and politics through large-scale installations, painting and performances.
In order to contribute to the development of contemporary art in his country, he opened « The Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art » in his country.
Contemporary painter of Beninese origin, she addresses the violence of slavery and its corollaries in her work. She has had a metaphysical experience on her creative path with « Code Black » and will expose past and present problems of racism and xenophobia.
Pascale Marthine Tayou
Self-taught visual artist of Cameroonian origin, Pascale Marthine Tayou adopts several mediums including drawing, performance, photography, video, assembly, graffiti etc…
In her work, instead of causing the viewer to recoil from the excesses of consumer society, one perceives an attractive universe with bright and acidulous colors. His objective is to allow everyone to reconsider our globalized culture.
Angela Ferreira is a Mozambican artist who works daily to denounce the misdeeds of colonization through her works by evoking the conflicts and instabilities that disrupt the peace of the people of her country.
Through her works, Angela Ferreira transmits the melancholic memory of the colonial past to the visitors by exposing as an example the Portuguese colonial buildings, today in advanced state of degradation. These images provoke in the consumers of the artworks, as well as in the artist herself, a feeling of betrayal and regret due to the myths and utopian dreams of colonization.
Born of Jamaican parents, Simone Leigh is an American artist. She is sensitive to the commodification of black women who have been left out of the archives and out of history. Her works sometimes take the form of monumental sculptures with corporeal qualities, films or pieces with an activist dimension. The first black woman to make the U.S. pavilion at the world’s largest art festival, the 2022 Venice Biennale, will also be featured on « Congoville ».
Hank Willis Thomas
American artist committed to the fight against inequality and prejudice, he denounces popular culture as a vehicle for social discrimination through his photographs, sculptures, videos and collaborative public art projects. Hank Willis Thomas works to raise the consciousness of citizens by using art to demand social justice and civil rights.
And other artists…
Will also be present: Zahia Rahmani, author of the short story « Muslim » and winner of the Albertine Prize 2020; the contemporary Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga, who focuses her work on contemporary post-colonial societies; Sven Augustijnen, who in his films, publications and installations, addresses themes related to politics, history and social facts; the Italian, Elisabetta Benassi, who dedicates her art to the critical analysis of contemporary identity.
Posthumously, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Congolese sculptor, former restorer of the Museum of Kinshasa, who has left indelible traces in the world of contemporary art, through his concept called « architecture maquettique ».