Other Tales is Sammy Baloji’s (CD, 1978) first solo exhibition in both Denmark and Sweden, curated by Matteo Lucchetti (IT, 1984). It offers an opportunity to introduce, through Baloji’s oeuvre, a larger conversation on the continuous colonial gestures and actions that tie the West to African territories, specifically the Democratic Republic of Congo.
While presenting an overview of Baloji’s most recent productions, the exhibition also offers a broad insight into his investigative methodology. He uses photography, installation, film-making and sculptural forms to repurpose archival materials and museum narratives – against the backdrop of past and current international exploitation of human and mineral resources in his country of origin, now identified as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The exhibition focuses on the unearthing of ‘other’ tales – overlooked, suppressed, forgotten – about the Democratic Republic of Congo on the world map. Throughout history, its territories have occupied a central position on the international stage.
The Congo Basin has long been a site of extraction for multiple resources, from rubber to uranium, and nowadays not least copper, coltan, and lithium. Congolese raw materials have been turned into tires, atomic energy and bombs as well as electrical equipment for wiring, engines and communication devices. Coltan and lithium are also primary substances for the production of batteries, fundamental to the development of so-called 'green energy', which fuels the growing market for electric cars and other consumer products. This is, once again, a solution for the problems of the West at the expense of the Congolese territory and its population.
Such attention to the interconnectedness of events that appear distant in time, space and meaning is a central aspect of Baloji’s practice, which seeks to mend ruptures in the colonial timeline while reordering the events it narrates and problematising it by resurrecting pre-colonial knowledge. By adopting a decolonial gaze, Baloji substantially challenges the Eurocentric foundation on which the dominant narrative rests.
Other Tales presents new works by Baloji, and a substantial selection of existing recent works including elements from the series Fragments of Interlaced Dialogues premiered at documenta 14 in 2017, and an installation from the exhibition A Blueprint for Toads and Snakes at Framer Framed in Amsterdam, 2018.
Other Tales is created in collaboration between Lunds konsthall and Kunsthal Aarhus. The exhibition could be experienced in Lund during the Spring of 2020. Jean Christophe Lanquetin (FR, 1963) has created the scenography for the exhibition.
You can find the exhibition catalogue here. You can read an English translation of the artwork Letter from Afonso I of Kongo to Manuel I of Portugal Regarding the Burning of the 'Great House of Idols', Kingdom of Kongo, 5 October 1515, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo, Lisbon here.