Thursday 17 January 2013

Congolese photographer and AAD partner artist Sammy Baloji will exhibit his latest work ‘Kolwezi’ at the Café Culturel La Barricade on Saturday, January 19th, from 12:30-10 pm. This photo exhibit is part of Afriphoto‘s initiative for the Parisian festival ‘Les uns chez les autres’.


For its 39th edition, the festival has chosen to explore the relationship between China and Africa as economic ties between the country and the continent have developed at an astounding pace over the last few years.


The series of photographs, titled ‘Kolwezi’, offers a unique approach in exploring the real and imagined relations between China and Africa. Since 2009, Baloji has documented artisanal mining by Chinese companies in Kolwezi, a city in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He combines his pictures with Chinese posters showing idyllic urban and rural landscapes. By putting documentary photographs and kitsch posters together, the latter being very popular in Congo, the artist places an emphasis on the striking contrast between fantasy and reality. Baloji explains that he uses these Chinese posters in his work to represent ‘the prolongation of a utopian future born out of artisanal mining, the exportation of minerals, and the continued displacement of populations.’


Kolwezi © Sammy Baloji


This latest work, which highlights the new Chinese economic presence in the mining region, encapsulates many of Baloji’s favourite themes: the industrial and cultural heritage of his home province of Katanga, the notion of memory, and the imprint of colonisation.


Kolwezi © Sammy Baloji


Sammy Baloji won two awards at the 2007 Bamako Biennale, was a finalist for the 2009 Pictet Prize in Paris, and took home the Prince Claus Culture and Development Prize from the eponymous foundation for his work ‘Mémoire’. He has participated in various international shows worldwide, from Paris Photo 2011 to the Cape Biennal and the Addis Photo Fest. His work is part of several public and private collections, including the Smithsonian in Washington and the Arthur Walter collection.


Sammy Baloji, Café Culturel La Barricade, 43 rue de Tourtille, Paris 20ème.