Chrystel Mukeba works on the links between colonialism and Art Nouveau through portraiture of Afro-descendant Belgians (Drucila Clement, Agnes Kena, Badibanga Ndeka aka Badi, Léonie Ngoie, Lewis Ossoko Hang) in Art Nouveau buildings. Her photographic subjects include people who carry intimate lived experiences of colonialism as well as younger generations whose relation to the not-so-distant past is but a spectre.

The photographs were made in iconic Art Nouveau buildings, including the Horta Museum, built in 1898 by and for the architect Victor Horta, and the Hôtel van Eetvelde, designed in 1895 by Horta for Edmond van Eetvelde, general administrator of the Congo Free State. By suggesting a symbolic reappropriation of this architectural heritage, built via the exploitation of Congolese raw materials such as hardwood, the work poses a question: To whom does this heritage belong today?

The works were commissioned by CIVA for the exhibition Style Congo. Heritage & Heresy, devoted to the links between Art Nouveau and Belgian colonialism.