In the DRC, the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale reimagines how we map the world
The 6th edition of the Lubumbashi Biennale, entitled Future Genealogies, explores the possibilities of redesigning the world map.

The 6th edition of the Lubumbashi Biennale, entitled Future Genealogies, explores the possibilities of redesigning the world map. One of the seven African countries that lie on the equator, Congo, claims the longest parallel stretch of land on the continent. This locates the region not only in the heart of Africa, but also at the world’s crossroads, at the intersection of the northern and southern hemispheres. In affirming this position, the Biennale rejects the modern fantasy of Congo as "an unimportant place on the periphery of cultural history," instead rediscovering its deep entanglement with the world and its central position, past and present. 

Redrawing the world map

The concept of the Biennale is not to take the imaginary line of the equator as a demarcation - the majestic Congo River rejects this by crossing it twice - but rather of intricacy and interconnectedness. Nearest to the place where Earth's gravity is reduced and the magnetic attractions of the poles are balanced, equatorial latitude opens up possibilities for depolarized stories that respond to other compasses and recognize new centres of gravity. At the same time, in a region where the sun rises and sets faster than anywhere else, the rapid shift from night to day reminds us that the possibility of renewal and change is always on the horizon. The Biennale hopes to explore the geographical paradox of being located in a region where history continues to be rooted in the depth of its soil resources, but whose unique position also has the potential to serve as a model to uproot established perspectives.

Breaking down the barriers of history

Inspired by the notion of "decompartmentalization" conceived by the philosopher Achille Mbembe (Writing Africa and the World, 2017), the Biennale unearths the equatorial line to bring down the paradigms of the centre and periphery, from "North" to "South". "As the Cameroonian thinker has unambiguously said, "There is no part of the world whose history does not have an African dimension, just as African history is an integral part of the world's history. "This edition of the Biennale is interested in mapping these links and tracing these genealogies in a new way. At a time when the restitution of looted African works of art has become a burning geopolitical issue, and when museum institutions around the world are called upon to proceed with their "decolonization," art and image are at the heart of a change in global dynamics. The Biennale wishes to take advantage of this moment to produce new stories from the past and to reimagine a plurality of futures.

Sandrine Colard, Artistic Director of the 6th edition of the Lubumbashi Biennale

Dr. of the History of Modern and Contemporary African art and a professor at Rutgers University in the United States, Sandrine Colard has conducted research on the history of photography in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is particularly interested in family archive photos from the colonial period to post-independence. For the Lubumbashi Biennale, she aims to revisit the local photographic customs in Congo, both through colonial propaganda and by African practitioners of the time. Based on photographs of Congolese families, the use of private archives to reinterpret Congo's colonial past makes it possible to reverse and remodel dominant historical narratives. In contrast to the contemporary situation, which continues to grant the West holding the exclusive right to comment on the colonial past, this exhibition seeks to repatriate the discussion on visual colonial regimes to Congo’s civil society and artistic communities. 

24th October – 24th November 2019

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