K(C)ONGO,
FRAGMENTS
OF INTERLACED
DIALOGUES

VIMAR1991 IS PARTNER OF THE FIRST PERSONAL EXHIBITION OF SAMMY BALOJI IN ITALY, OPENED ON THE 26TH OF APRIL AT PALAZZO PITTI, FLORENCE. 

The exhibition project represents the climax of a 7-year research in the collections of various museums all over the world. Within the exhibit, two site-specific artworks are showcased along with archival objects. The element of continuity throughout the exhibition journey is a 88-meter-long carpet (The Crossing), produced and manufactured specifically for the Andito degli Angiolini rooms, whose decorations translate the geometric and circular patterns of four precious Kongo olifants (carved ivory horn) exceptionally gathered for the exhibition. Three of them come from the Treasury of the Grand Dukes of Palazzo Pitti and one was loaned for the occasion from the Museum of Civilizations in Rome. These outstanding pieces of art marks the culmination of a long journey, which highlights the complexity of the intertwined dialogues between Congo, Renaissance Europe and Modern Europe.

WITH THE IMMERSIVE INSTALLATION GNOSIS, INSPIRED BY THE SALA DELLE CARTE GEOGRAFICHE OF PALAZZO VECCHIO, SAMMY BALOJI EXPLORES THE CONCEPT OF WUNDERKAMMER (IN OTHER WORDS, ROOM OF WONDERS), FRAMING THE RENAISSANCE COLLECTION OF MIRABILIA AND NATURALIA AS WELL AS THE BIRTH OF MODERN ITALIAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL AND ETHNOGRAPHIC MUSEUMS. 

“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

The letters of King Afonso I of Congo to the Portuguese sovereign Manuel I, just like the copper and bronze plates of Baloji’s Negative of Luxury Cloth and the sculpture Goods Trades Roots (in which the geometric patterns refer to the precious raffia fabrics, worn in Italia between the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth centuries by Portuguese merchants) speak of an equal and horizontal relationship between Europe and Africa, which overturns the exotic narrative, which later became predominant.

 

The exhibition brings out a new outline of Kongo artworks, which go beyond the “exotic” and “ethnographic” modern classifications – inherited from the transatlantic slave trade and the Scramble for Africa (conquest of Africa) of the late 19th century ; these classifications and their consequences are precisely coming into conflict with the contemporary cultural values. 

THE EXHIBITION WILL BE OPEN IN TWO SEPARATE PERIODS: 

FROM THE 26TH OF APRIL TO THE 26TH OF JUNE AND THEN FROM THE 6TH OF SEPTEMBER TO THE 27TH OF NOVEMBER.  

Lives and works between Lubumbashi and Bruxelles. His journey started in 2005 with photographic documentation of his city’s modern buildings. He has evolved towards visual research and production with Picha, a collective of artists and culture professionals. With it, he founded in 2008 the Biennale of Lubumbashi and the Picha art center. His work explores the memory and history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in echo with the world’s history. He brings out, through a dense network of relationships, a complexity that deeply affects and revises the modern European history.

The artwork of Baloji reinterprets the impact of colonization, demonstrating how the current economic imperialism is strengthening the power relations. His vision criticizes the first relationships between Africa and Europe in the Fifteenth century and shows how cultural clichés shaped by collective memories have played a major role in today’s perception of the world. Appointed Knigth of Arts and Letters in France, he has received multiple scholarships, prizes and awards, especially at the Rencontres africaines de la photographie de Bamako and at the Biennale of Dakar. He also won the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. In 2019-2020, he was a member of the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici. Since 2018, he teaches at the Sommerakademie of Salzburg. He has exhibited in influential museums, galleries and exhibitions all over the world, of which: Beaux-Arts de Paris (2021), Biennale of Sydney (2020), Documenta 14 (Kassel/Athens, 2017), Biennale of Lyon (2015), Biennale of Venice (2015), Festival Photoquai at the Quai Branly Museum (2015). In 2020, he was appointed in the Power100, a ranking of “the most influential people in the art world” established by the British magazine ArtReview. 

SAMMY BALOJI.

K(C)ONGO, FRAGMENTS OF INTERLACED DIALOGUES.

SUBVERSIVE CLASSIFICATIONS

 

Curatorship

Lucrezia Cippitelli, Chiara Toti, collettivo curatoriale BHMF

Place

Palazzo Pitti, Andito degli Angiolini

Duration

26 aprile – 26 giugno; 6 settembre – 27 novembre

Exhibition produced in collaboration

The Recovery Plan, Twenty Nine Studio & Production

Acknowledgements 

Arthub, Féderation Wallonie-Bruxelles, Flanders State of the Art, Galerie Imane Farès, Numeroventi, Rolex Foundation, TBA21, Vimar1991, Traumnovelle

 

Contacts

Tommaso Galligani, Ufficio Stampa delle Gallerie degli Uffizi, +393494299681

tommaso.galligani@beniculturali.it

Twenty Nine Studio & Production Brussels
Info@twentininestudio.net