Congoville, Contemporary Artists tracing colonial tracks
Chantal Pattyn’s selection for her storefront.
One of my favorite places in Antwerp is the Middelheim Museum. It is a unique sculpture park with a variety of art. My son loves Erwin Wurm’s sailboat (Misconceivable) and we always say hello to François Pompon’s polar bear. The museum also organizes excellent exhibitions. This summer you can visit Congoville. Curator is Sandrine Colard who did the Lubumbashi Biennale in 2019. As part of this exhibition, the history of the site was explored. What is unknown, is that the building where the rector of the University of Antwerp has his office, just next to the museum, used to be the Colonial College, established in 1920. It’s here where la jeunesse doreé was groomed to bring civilization to Congo as a regional administrator. This lack of historical knowledge is shocking. Colard extends this case to the entire public space in our country, which partly was shaped by the wealth imported from Congo via the port of Antwerp. She invited 15 artists (Congolese, African, of African origin or, like Sven Augustijnen, an expert on our (post)colonial history) for the exhibition Congoville to make cultural memory traces visible. With work by Sammy Baloji, Maurice Mbikkayi (The Aesthetic Observer is a masterpiece!), Pascale Martine Tayou, Pélagie Gbaguidi (her work for Documenta!) and the late Bodys Isek Kingelez. And some brilliant essays.
“One hundred years after the founding of the École Coloniale Supérieure in Antwerp, the adjacent Middelheim Museum invites Sandrine Colard, researcher and curator, to conceive an exhibition that probes silenced histories of colonialism in a site-specific way. For Colard, the term Congoville encompasses the tangible and intangible urban traces of the colony, not on the African continent but in 21st-century Belgium: a school building, a park, imperial myths, and citizens of African descent. In the exhibition and this adjoining publication, the concept Congoville is the starting point for 15 contemporary artists to address colonial history and ponder its aftereffects as black flâneurs walking through a postcolonial city.
Due to the multitude of perspectives and voices, this book is both a catalogue and a reference work comprised of artistic and academic contributions. Together, the participating artists and invited authors unfold the blueprint of Congoville, an imaginary city that still subconsciously affects us, but also encourages us to envision a decolonial utopia.” Leuven University Press
- Leuven University Press
- Languages Dutch English
- Format30 x 20 cm