Réorganisation, by Chéri Samba, 2002
Congo Art Works
Hello! We (my better half and I) are thinking about traveling to Kinshasa next year for a first acquaintance with the local Congolese culture. Our ultimate destination is Goma (North Kivu), but because of the political conflicts and the violence it’s better to wait a few more years. In the mean time, I try to expand my knowledge about the history of this country, including the colonial period. With this in mind, you can understand why I wouldn’t miss an exhibition about Congolese art in Brussels 😉 .
Congo Art Works is curated by the Congolese artist Sammy Baloji and the Flemish anthropologist Bambi Ceuppens. It’s a collaboration between Bozar, who is hosting the expo, and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren. In the first picture we see a painting made by Chéri Samba that was commissioned by the Royal Museum for Central Africa. The museum is currently closed for the public because they are renovating, and that’s a great time to rethink the way Congo should be presented to the visitors. So far, there was a rather paternalistic vision behind the museum collection. As a visitor, it gave you the idea that Congo was all about nature and that culture was brought there by Western countries. Now, we are more and more aware that Congo had and still has its own unique culture. Especially the younger generation of Belgian and Congolese citizens are making this change happen, although it’s a long process. In 2013, the museum in Tervuren bought a collection of 2000 paintings, photographs and objects from the Polish professor Bogumil Jewiewicki. The curators show us a selection of this ‘new’ collection in Bozar. At first, when you see these paintings, you see all the bright colors, as if you are about to see something joyful. But if you pay attention you realize quite fast that that isn’t the case.