Installation view, Kunsthalle Mainz, Unextractable: Sammy Baloji invites: Sybil Coovi Handemagnon Dessus, dessous et à travers (Over, under and through), 2023, Photo: Norbert Miguletz
Unextractable: Sammy Baloji invites
Oct 27, 2023 – Feb 11, 2024
Kunsthalle Mainz
Mainz, Germany

In his artistic work Sammy Baloji investigates the history of mining in his home city of Lubumbashi, located in the southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He contrasts the profound destruction of the environment and social structures to the memories and hopes of people in the Katanga region. Key elements of his artistic practice are to encourage collaboration between art producers, activists, and academics as well as bringing together many different kinds of knowledge and production. His invitation to 12 artists in both the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Europe with whom he regularly interacts is a continuation of this development of collective structures that he views as a strategy of resistance to extractivism, an economic model in which raw materials are “extracted” from nature.

The exhibition unfolds along three thematic skeins that are directly related to Sammy Baloji’s works of recent years as well as his current research. “Expropriation of land & the transformation of earth into raw materials” derives from Baloji’s artistic documentation of the extractive industries in the Katanga region, which turn land into resources and view societies merely as a potential labor pool. In works such as Tales of the Copper Cross Garden, he confronts this with memories, hopes, and projects by people who live among the ruins caused by colonialism, industrial mining, and the global capitalist economy. Franck Moka’s Shimoko project, which started with research lasting several months, likewise sheds light on work in the mines in Lubumbashi and the resulting environmental degradation and pollution. Hadassa Ngamba works with minerals such as malachite, Katanga cassiterite, tar and charcoal, and applies them along with coffee to canvas in her piece Cerveau (brain). In his Tshanga Tshanga photo series Georges Senga uses close-up and aerial shots to capture the extractive industries’ impact on the countryside and society in the region around Manono, a town to the north of Lubumbashi.

[ . . . ]

Together, the artists represented in the exhibition continue to develop new forms and cooperations to resist the impact of extractivism. They repair interrupted chains of knowledge, shed light on the consequences of global consumer behavior and economic profit maximization, and place people central stage. The polyphonic nature of the exhibition continues the long-standing work of the artists and art producers in the circle around Sammy Baloji to develop collective structures in Lubumbashi. At the heart of this is the independent Picha platform populated by Congolese artists that, among other things, organizes the Lubumbashi Biennale. The works on display in Kunsthalle Mainz were developed by the artists in the context of these structures (Picha and the Lubumbashi Biennale) or in collaboration with Framer Framed Amsterdam as well as Reconnecting “Objects” and are being shown in Germany for the first time.

  • Zanele Muholi: Eye Me
    Jan 18 – Aug 11, 2024
    SFMoMA
    San Francisco, USA

    A self-described visual activist, Zanele Muholi (b. 1972, Umlazi, South Africa) uses the camera to explore issues of gender identity, representation, and race. Often photographing their own body or members of their LGBTQ+ community in South Africa, Muholi calls attention to the trauma and violence enacted on queer people while celebrating their beauty and resilience. Activism is central to Muholi’s artistic practice (more…)

  • Nasan Tur: Hunted
    May 26, 2023 – Apr 1, 2024
    Berlinische Galerie
    Berlin, Germany

    Nasan Tur explores the political and social conditions that define our times. His works are experimental arrangements that draw attention to ideologies, social norms and behavioural codes and expand our options for individual action. To this end, he examines statements, gestures and images found in the media or in the public space and distils them into miniatures reflecting current social crises and discourse. (more…)

  • Tyrone Williams & Madison Dinelle: Chiasm
    Publication
    Ceremony Press
    International

    Many photographers have experimented with the ‘Call & Response’ model of collaboration, where images function like links in a chain – a visual duel, or game of chess. This book, in which these two photographers pair up their photographs, feels more to me like a matching card game. Chiasm describes in biology the point at which two filamentous structures like a tendon or nerve diagonally intersect in an X (more…)