Based on a concept by Lotte Arndt & Sammy Baloji, co-curated by Lotte Arndt, Yasmin Afschar and Marlène Harles, in partnership with Picha, Lubumbashi, Framer Framed Amsterdam, and Reconnecting „Objects”.
Since 2005, Sammy Baloji has been working on memory and history in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and its entwinement with Belgium – the country in which Baloji is now based. His work is an ongoing investigation of the cultural, architectural and industrial heritage of the Katanga region, questioning the lasting impact of Belgian colonization. Through the use of photographic archives, he manipulates time and space, interlacing the massive vestiges of colonial infrastructures with contemporary capitalist exploitation on a global scale.
Throughout his artistic work, Sammy Baloji has also been examining the extractivist history of his native city Lubumbashi, in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, confronting the profound disruptions of environments and social structures with the memories, aspirations and desires of the people living in the Katanga region.
Engaging in collaborations with artists, activists, academics, and bringing together many forms of knowledge and production, Baloji has laboured for more than a decade at the development of collective structures, notably the art centre Picha in Lubumbashi and the Lubumbashi Biennale that, in its last edition in 2022, was dedicated to the topic of toxicity.
Inscribed in the long-term activities and collaborative nature of Sammy Baloji’s work, the exhibition at Kunsthalle Mainz offers a continuation of the interrogations initiated in the Lubumbashi Biennale and explores modes of artistic production as a means of resisting toxicity by building collective structures. Several artists, most having developed their work in the frame of Atelier Picha and/or the Lubumbashi Biennale, join the exhibition, advocating multi-voicedness and the power of collective action.
The exhibition unfolds along thematic clusters relating to works by Baloji from the last years as well as his current research investigating strategies to reconnect interrupted chains of knowledge and material connections, and transmission as living practice. The threads taken up include „Expropriating Land – the transformation of soil into raw material”, „Confronting the colonial archive and its afterlives”, and „Transmission by Transformation.