Since 2005, Sammy Baloji has been exploring the memory and history of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His work is an ongoing research on the cultural, architectural and industrial heritage of the Katanga region, as well as a questioning of the impact of Belgian colonization. His use of photographic archives allows him to manipulate time and space, comparing ancient colonial narratives with contemporary economic imperialism. His video works, installations and photographic series highlight how identities are shaped, transformed, perverted and reinvented. His critical view of contemporary societies is a warning about how cultural clichés continue to shape collective memories and thus allow social and political power games to continue to dictate human behaviour. As he stated in a recent interview : “I’m not interested in colonialism as nostalgia, or in it as a thing of the past, but in the continuation of that system.”
Sammy Baloji (b. 1978 in Lubumbashi, DR Congo) lives and works between Lubumbashi and Brussels. Sammy Baloji received a degree in Information and Communication Sciences from the University of Lubumbashi and a degree from the Haute Ecole des Arts du Rhin. He started in September 2019 his PhD artistic research project “Contemporary Kasala and Lukasa: towards a Reconfiguration of Identity and Geopolitics” at Sint Lucas Antwerpen.
A Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, he has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Prince Claus Prize, the Spiegel Prize of the African Photography Encounters of Bamako and the Dakar Biennale, and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. For the year 2019-2020, he is a resident of the Académie de France à Rome – Villa Médicis. Since 2018, he teaches each summer at the Sommerakademie in Salzburg. Sammy Baloji co-founded in 2008 the Rencontres Picha/Biennale de Lubumbashi.
His recent personal exhibitions include Sammy Baloji, Other Tales, Lund Konsthall and Aarhus Kunsthal (2020); Congo, Fragments d’une histoire, Le Point du Jour, Cherbourg (2019); A Blueprint for Toads and Snakes, Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2018); Sven Augustijnen & Sammy Baloji Museumcultuur Strombeek (2018); Urban Now : City Life in Congo, Sammy Baloji and Filip de Boeck, The Power Plant, Toronto and WIELS, Brussels (2016-2017), and Hunting and Collecting, Mu. ZEE Kunstmuseum aan zee, Ostend (2014). He has recently participated in the Sydney Biennial (2020), documenta 14 (Kassel/Athens, 2017), the Lyon Biennial (2015), the Venice Biennial (2015), the Photoquai Festival at the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris, 2015).
His first personal exhibition at Imane Farès, 802. That is where, as you heard, the elephant danced the malinga. The place where they now grow flowers, took place in 2016.