Sammy Baloji

[Visual Arts]

No stranger to enquiry into a past marked by slavery and colonialism, and its vestiges on contemporary life, the visual artist Sammy Baloji explores constructed memories spanning Africa, the Americas and Europe, and their transmission.

With reference to three principal works, Sammy Baloji tackles the question of transmission and genealogy by means of the Congolese rumba, the tradition of the kasala and the so-called “Indies” tapestries made at the Gobelins Manufactory between the 17th and 18th centuries. Based on the Himmelheber collection of works of art from Congo and a performance by the writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila, the video Kasala: The Slaughterhouse of Dreams or the First Human, Bende’s Error links contemporary mining activity with the theft of works of art from Congo by taking a fresh look at the practice of the kasala. This performative account was used to perpetuate the name of ancestors and as a celebration of the Other by the Lubas of Kasaï. The importance of the name can be found at the heart of the Congolese rumba via the practice of dedications. Filmed in Kinshasa with David N. Bernatchez and Kiripi Katembo Siku and focusing on the Brigade Sabarti orchestra, the documentary Rumba Rules, Nouvelles généalogies sheds light on the lives of these young people who perpetuate and reinvent music which was born, during the period of colonisation, out of the encounter between afro-cuban rhythms and Congolese sounds. Sammy Baloji revisits the Indies tapestries and their echoes with this story that was shared by Africa, the Americas and Europe. They offer a western vision of the Amerindians, and of the ambassadors and members of the Kongo population present in the Americas.
Sammy Baloji is the author of the visual for the 49th edition of the Festival and created the limited edition 2020 that you will be able to discover on our online shop in the autumn.