art me africa

Montage Me Congo Mr. Baloji

Posted in africa, photography by artmeafrica on December 10, 2008

Gégamines, 2006

A Lubumbashi gent born and raised, Sammy Baloji is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s mix-master of subversive photo montages. Circumventing the impulse to snap easy pix of rundown landscapes and rust or depressing images of peeps amid war ‘n economic depression, Baloji’s 2006 series “Mémoire is an aesthetic contortion of Dada meets nouveau photoshop geek with more than a dollop of regional history smeared ontop. Digging into the archive, Baloji extracts b&w images of migrant mine workers from the early 20th Century and superimposes them over contemporary shots of the now abandoned industrial landscape. The mines, established by sadistic Belgians ‘n Congolese in 1908 for the Congo Free State colonial enterprise, fell into disrepair once ole Mobutu (think leopard patterned hat) caught hold of ’em in ’66, and have since become a Bermuda Triangle for power games. Yet despite the bloody history packed into the series, Baloji’s work possesses an air of dignity, as if his photographic cut outs, once victimized by colonial contests, have returned to lay claim to their labor.

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