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¡ Viva Villa ! 2020 : Sammy Baloji


Born in 1978 in Lubumbashi (Congo), Sammy Baloji is a visual artist and photographer, co-founder of Rencontres Picha, a photography and video biennial in Lubumbashi. Sammy Baloji participated in the African Photography Meetings in Bamako in 2007, the Lyon Biennale in 2015, the Venice Biennale in 2015, the Photoquai Festival at the Quai-Branly Museum in 2015, the Dakar Biennale in 2016 and the 14th edition of Documenta in 2017. His works have been exhibited at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, at the Kunstmuseum aan zee in Oostende, at the Tate Modern in London, at the Africa Center in New York and at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC.

He has received several awards, notably from the Prince Claus Foundation in the Netherlands, and the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie in Bamako and the Dakar Biennale. He won the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative award in 2014.

Since 2005, he has explored the memory and history of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His work is a perpetual research around the cultural, architectural and industrial heritage of the Katanga region, as well as a questioning of the effects of  the Belgian colonization. His videos and photographic series highlight how identities are shaped, transformed, perverted and reinvented.

His use of photographic archives allows him to manipulate time and space, thus comparing ancient colonial narratives to current economic imperialisms. His critical outlook on contemporary societies is a warning about how cultural clichés continue to shape collective memories and thus allow social and political power games to continue to dictate human behavior. As he said in a recent interview: “I am not interested in colonialism in the sense of nostalgia, or in being a thing of the past, but in the perpetuation of this system. ”

For ¡Viva Villa! Sammy Baloji presents the installation Tales of the Copper Cross Garden, a film documenting the hypnotic process at work in a copper factory. Images of the metal shining in the heat are juxtaposed with the songs of a young boy’s choir and writings on the role of the Church in the colonial enterprise.



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