Sammy Baloji

(Democratic Republic of Congo)

Sammy Baloji

With Vues de Likasi (2006), Sammy Baloji explores the traditional form of the panorama. A long frieze of photographs reconstructs, street by street, the urban landscape of Likasi, with its bland buildings and architecture from colonial times. This portrait of the city evokes the cultural and industrial heritage and the ostentatious signs of the late-nineteenth-century Belgian colonial period, which persist to this day. The results of Baloji’s photographic amblings are displayed in a pared-down documentary format that juxtaposes the city’s vestiges of the past with its day-to-day identity, in the process travers- ing different periods in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The work is presented for the first time in Canada. The artist is shortlisted for the 2009 Prix Pictet.

Sammy Baloji was born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. He lives and works in Lubumbashi.

Using photomontage and panoramas, Sammy Baloji constructs landscapes with a pronounced documentary flavour. He excavates the photographic archives of the colonial period, combining images that he finds there with contemporary views of mining sites abandoned by the Union minière du Haut-Katanga (Mémoire, 2006). Mixing colour with black and white and obsolescent visual supports with the latest media, this series constitutes a visual archaeological record punctuated by the various periods of photography. With Vues de Likasi (2006), Baloji continues to meticulously record vestiges of the colonial past, setting them against the modern development of the Democratic Republic of Congo. His photographic series examine the traces of a recent past and uncover the historical strata that mark the present-day landscape of Katanga. Arranged in long friezes or in triptychs (Avenida Vladimir Lenine, 2008), these pictures reinterpret the traditional form of the panorama and assume monumental proportions. Faced with a prohibition against taking pictures in public and industrial spaces, Baloji affirms the testimonial role of the image in the context of incipient African independence and the succession of Congolese political regimes.

Sammy Baloji has participated in Rencontres africaines de la photographie (Bamako, 2007) and Photoquai (Quai Branly, Paris, 2007). His video works have been shown in festivals in Africa (CAPE07, Cape Town, 2007) and Europe (Le Tarmac de la Villette, Paris, 2007) and have been part of choreographed pieces (The Dialogue Series: iii. Dinozord, 2006). Baloji was also the driving force behind the event Picha! Rencontres de l’image de Lubumbashi (2008).

3680, Jeanne-Mance St.
514 982 1812 |

SEPT. 12–OCT. 10, 2009

Tuesday to Saturday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
> Opening Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 at 12 p.m., the artist will be present
> Artist’s talk, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 at 12:30 p.m.
> Guided tour by the Guest Curator, Gaëlle Morel, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 at 12:30 p.m.
Activity organised within the framework of the Journées de la culture (In French only)

Sammy Baloji, Vues de Likasi, 2006. Detail: Avenue de la mine côté droit. Courtesy of the artist.