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Sammy Baloji invites.

  • Exhibition
  • Oct 27 2023 - Feb 11 2024

Sammy Baloji
Nilla Banguna
Jackson Bukasa & Dan Kayeye & Justice Kasongo
Sybil Coovi Handemagnon
Fundi Mwamba Gustave & Antje Van Wichelen
Franck Moka
Hadassa Ngamba
Isaac Sahani Dato
Georges Senga
Julia Tröscher

Based on a concept by Lotte Arndt & Sammy Baloji, co-curated by Lotte Arndt, Yasmin Afschar and Marlène Harles, in collaboration with Picha, Lubumbashi, Framer Framed, Amsterdam and Reconnecting "Objects" (Technische Universität Berlin).

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.

Together, the artists represented in the exhibition continue to develop new forms and collaborations to resist the impact of extractivism. They repair interrupted chains of knowledge, shed light on the consequences of global consumer behaviour and economic profit maximisation, and place people central stage. The polyphony of the exhibition continues the longstanding work of the artists and cultural workers 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 the research project Reconnecting "Objects" and are being shown in Germany for the first time.



Sammy Baloji: Born 1978 in Lubumbashi (DRC), lives and works in Brussels (B) and Lubumbashi. Sammy Baloji is currently researching memory and transmission in Luba communities in various provinces of Congo. He is interested in contemporary interpretations of pre-colonial forms and objects. For example, the lukasa, a decorated wooden object used as a tactile memory aid in storytelling. Sammy Baloji refers to this tradition with a monumental sculpture in a public space in Antwerp. In other works, a kasala is performed, a ceremonial poem with genealogical elements. Sammy Baloji's work encompasses various media: from photography and collage, to sculpture, installation, new media, spoken word and music. His work condenses complex questions about (post-)colonial history. He uses the archive, the museum and film as prisms to analyse and intervene in these constructs. 


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Nilla Banguna: Born 1990 in Lubumbashi (DRC), lives and works in Lubumbashi.
Nilla Banguna is a tailor, stylist and textile designer. She is the initiator of the fashion brand
MusNilla, the MusNilla tea recipes and the MusNilla catalogue. In 2016, she participated in Lubumbashi Fashion Week for the first time and showed her work in 2022 as part of the 7th Lubumbashi Biennale. As part of her collaboration with Picha, Banguna works with a group of women from Makwacha village (45 km from Lubumbashi). Every year, the women of the village paint the outside walls of their houses with pigments, a practice they pass down through generations. For the exhibition in Mainz, Nilla Banguna applied prints based on these drawings to long lengths of fabric in collaboration with Patrizia Banguna Kazadi, Josephine Kyungu Muloba, and Fernande Musha Sebelwa. They thus transfer the local paintings from the cabin walls to cotton fabric, which allows the motifs to travel.

Jackson Bukasa & Dan Kayeye & Justice Kasongo: Jackson Bukasa, born 1985 in Kolwezi (DRC), lives and works in Lubumbashi. Dan Kayeye, born 1991 in Kinshasa (DRC), lives and works in Lubumbashi. Justice Kasongo, born 1976 in Lubumbashi (DRC). Jackson Bukasa and Dan Kayeye are working on an artistic documentary film about Justice Kasongo's mobile installations with puppets. In the installations, the city and the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo are told through a complex interplay of puppets, movement and music.

Sybil Coovi Handemagnon: Born 1988 in Paris (F), lives and works in Villentrois (F). The artist is developing an installation on the toxicity of colonial collections in a research process lasting over a year in close collaboration with Lotte Arndt (co- curator of the project) as part of the international research project Reconnecting "Objects". The concept of toxicity is understood in two ways: on the one hand, it is about the chemical residues of insecticides with which the objects are treated and consequently change the use of the objects. On the other hand, it encompasses a symbolic dimension of European cultural conservation, the poisoning through preservation. The installation brings together photographs, texts and film clips that Coovi Handemagnon made, collected and compiled during visits to the collections of several ethnological and natural history museums in France, Switzerland, Germany and Senegal.


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Fundi Mwamba Gustave & Antje Van Wichelen: Fundi Mwamba Gustave, born in 1988, lives and works in Lubumbashi (DRC). He started his artistic career as an actor and model. In 2010 he shot his first short film Mampocha and two years later he founded the Osimbi Oziki Studios with Glodie Mubikay, a research and production lab for audiovisual and performing arts. Antje Van Wichelen lives in Brussels (B) and has been working with experimental 16mm film techniques for years to access and edit colonial, mostly photographic material. At Kunsthalle Mainz, the two artists invite visitors to the cabinet of Dr. Fundi, the filmmaker's fictional alter ego. Dr. Fundi is the main character of the experimental horror film that the artists are currently working on. The film is about "monstrification", a fictional phenomenon triggered by environmental pollution that leads to physical deformities and monster-like behaviour. In this fantastic story, the artists show the inevitability of toxic living conditions, which they experienced while visiting highly polluted zones in the city of Lubumbashi.

Franck Moka: Born 1992 (DRC), lives and works in Kisangani (DRC). The immersive sound and video installation Shimoko, conceived by Franck Moka and developed with Picha, began with several months of bibliographic research on the environmental pollution in Lubumbashi. It consists of sound recordings in mines and reactions from local people to the pollution.

Hadassa Ngamba: Born 1993 in Kizu (DRC), lives in Lubumbashi and works between Katanga and Congo-Central (DRC) and Belgium. In the exhibition she shows Cerveau 2 (Brain 2), a canvas coloured with coffee, on which minerals - malachite, cassiterite from Katanga, tar, coal - are applied. The work is an abstract mental map: it has no legend, no geographical reference. The five colours - red, yellow, green, black and blue - on this rectangular canvas, refer to the various ores and resources present in the soil of the DR Congo, including copper and cobalt. Ngamba interweaves her memories and sensations with collective traumas and spatial representations based on materials from Congolese soils. In doing so, she questions the interconnections between extractivism, global capitalist economy and their historical continuities.

Isaac Sahani DatoBorn 1992 in Kinshasa (DRC), lives and works in Kinshasa. He graduated in sculpture studies at the Institut des Beaux- Arts de Kinshasa in 2012 and continued his education at the Institut National des Arts (I.N.A.) in Kinshasa. His multi-media installation Topos is preceded by a long- lasting research on colonial maps he found in the National Museum in Lubumbashi. Most of the maps were destroyed by a fire and now only exist as snippets. For Mainz, he had the details of the maps - rivers, roads, borders, including the burnt edges - lasered into wood. This work process is reminiscent of the destroyed condition of the maps and the violent process by which first the colonial state, then the national state and international corporations expropriate land and inscribe new borders and names on the landscape. Sahani Dato is concerned with the designations of places, their renaming and appropriation by those in power, and their often multi-layered meanings.


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Georges Senga: Born 1983 in Lubumbashi (DRC), lives and works between Lubumbashi and Maastricht (NL). The Congolese photographer focuses his research on history and the stories that emerge from memory, identity and tradition, and illuminates actions in the present from there on. In the photo series Tshanga Tshanga, this interest results predominantly in aerial photographs and close-ups from a bird's eye perspective, which address the landscape and social consequences of ecological extractivism in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Julia Tröscher: Born 1997 in Austria, lives and works in Antwerp (B).
The artist Julia Tröscher takes up Sammy Baloji's examination of the
kasala and, using the figure of a fish-man, creating a genealogy of the universe that overlaps with her own. The fish-man, reminiscent of the first land animals and the transition from water to land, stands simultaneously at the beginning and the end of the history of the universe. A bench decorated with symbols forms the physical link to a polyphonic poem that, borrowing from the kasala, questions our location in the world between individual and collective existence.


The exhibition in Kunsthalle Mainz is supported by Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz, Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI), kiosk Vlaanderen, the Bureaux des Arts Plastiques of Institut français & the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

We would like to thank our partners Picha, Lubumbashi (especially Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi and Lucrezia Cippitelli), Framer Framed, Amsterdam, Twenty Nine studio, Brussels and Reconnecting "Objects" (Technische Universität Berlin). The project Reconnecting "Objects" at the TU Berlin is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. Further information:

We would like to draw your attention to the programme of events accompanying the exhibition:

Mainz - Postcolonial: Walking Tours for and through the New Town of Mainz
The Mainz - Postcolonial tours aim to give people in Mainz a new, different approach to (their) city. The aim is to show that Mainz was involved in colonialism, to make its traces visible and to sensitise people to its continuing effects. The term "postcolonial" refers to the fact that colonialism is not merely a past era of conquest. It is a system of power, oppression and exploitation whose structures influence our present lives. In Mainz's Neustadt, there are numerous examples, from street and place names like Sömmeringplatz and Adenauer-Ufer to Mainzer Zollhafen, which we want to critically explore together.

Tours in German: 02/11, 12/11, 09/12 14/01, 18/02 - each at 3 pm

Tour with sign language interpreter: 25/11, 2 pm

Tour in French and English: 26/01, 3.30 pm

Participation in the tour is free of charge. Meeting point: Kunsthalle Mainz, Max. number of participants: 25. Please register three days before the tour at

Feminist tour with Sakhile Matlhare (Sakhile&Me, Frankfurt) and Marlène Harles (curator Kunsthalle Mainz). In English.
Wed 13/12, 7 pm
Cost: included in admission

Curator's tour
With Yasmin Afshar and Dr. Boniface Mabanza Bambu Wed 10/01, 7 pm
Cost: included in admission

Bénédicte Savoy & Sammy Baloji
Lectures and discussion with art historian and co-author of the restitution report to the French government (2017) Bénédicte Savoy (TU Berlin) and Sammy Baloji, at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste - Städelschule in Frankfurt.
Thu 25/01, 7 pm
Cost: Free admission / Venue: Städelschule

Transmission Through Transformation
On 26 and 27 January 2024, Kunsthalle Mainz and its cooperation partners invite you to two days of public lectures, artist tours, workshop talks, music and performances. In exchange with the participating artists, partners and visitors, we will discuss and test transmission as a living practice and as a strategy for restoring interrupted chains of knowledge.

Fri 26/01, 3.30 pm
Mainz - Postcolonial: Tour for and through the Mainzer Neustadt in French and English, followed by the opportunity to visit the exhibition at Kunsthalle Mainz.

Sat 27/01
11 am Public programme for young and old at the Kunsthalle Mainz

Artist tours, panels, workshop talks, performances and music:
With Sammy Baloji, Nilla Banguna, Sybil Coovi Handemagnon, Fundi Mwamba Gustave & Antje Van Wichelen, Franck Moka, Hadassa Ngamba, Isaac Sahani Dato, Georges Senga and Julia Tröscher.
As well as numerous partners: Atelier Picha, Lubumbashi / Framer Framed, Amsterdam / Reconnecting "Objects" (TU Berlin) / Kunsthochschule Mainz / Hochschule für Bildende Künste-Städelschule, Frankfurt / Institut für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien, JGU Mainz / Hochschule für Gestaltung, Offenbach am Main.

The detailed programme will be announced soon on our homepage. Participation in the programme is free of charge. This event is supported by the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Rheinland-Pfalz.




Cover: Installation view Kunsthalle Mainz: Unextractable: Sammy Baloji invites: Sammy Baloji: Kasala: The Slaughterhouse of Dreams or The First Human, Bende’s Error in Boycotting the Creation, 2019, mixed media installation, variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artist. Collection of Museum Rietberg Zurich, Switzerland.
Sammy Baloji,
Kasala: The Slaughterhouse of Dreams or The First Human, Bende’s Error in Boycotting the Creation, 2020, HD Video (31:40 min). Courtesy of the artist. Commissioned by Museum Rietberg Zurich, Switzerland. Photo: Norbert Miguletz.

fig. 1: Installation view Kunsthalle Mainz: Unextractable: Sammy Baloji invites: Sammy Baloji: Untitled, 2015, embossed copper plates, 60 × 42,5 cm. Produced in collaboration with workshop Eric van Hove / Fenduq, Marrakech.
Nilla Banguna: Wankito (umwanakaji). La femme forte, 2023, printed fabrics designed and produced by Nilla Banguna, in collaboration with Patrizia Banguna Kazadi, Josephine Kyungu Muloba and Fernande Musha Sebelwa in Lubumbashi. Photo: Norbert Miguletz.

fig. 2: Installation view Kunsthalle Mainz: Unextractable: Sammy Baloji invites: Sybil Coovi Handemagnon: Dessus, dessous et à travers (Over, under and through), 2023, Multimedia installation: photomontage on wallpaper fleece, pigments prints on white 42 g paper, pigment prints on 310 g plaster sculptures, archive boxes with photographs and documents, metal shelves, cola nuts, nitrile gloves, tissue paper, Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Norbert Miguletz.

fig. 3: Installation view Kunsthalle Mainz: Unextractable: Sammy Baloji invites: Isaac Sahani Dato: Topos, 2022, Installation of burned maps lasered in wood, aerial shots and a fanzine. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Norbert Miguletz.



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