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© Veerle Vercauteren

Living Traces

An artistic collaboration between Kinshasa and Brussels

Living Traces, a bridging project between Kinshasa and Brussels, is articulated around various multidisciplinary artistic proposals that will be held between the two capitals between March 2022 and March 2023. The project reflects the desire of KANAL-Centre Pompidou to broaden people's perception by inviting them to discover the artistic diversity of the Congolese, Belgian and Belgian-Congolese communities.


Starting point is a look back on 60 years of Congolese independence and, more precisely, to take a two-sided look at the past and present of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Its links with Belgium. What traces were left behind by the colonisation of the Congo? And what remains of this (de)colonisation in the two countries today?


Orchestrating the narrative of the project are curators Sorana Munsya and Evelyn Simons, Johnny Leya and Twenty Nine Studio, Gia Abrassart and Joelle Sambi who will be organising their events in partnership with the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Kinshasa, Festival Horst, Cinematek, the CIVA and the third place Café Congo.


Ever-aware that the work on "living traces" is not univocal and that there are many aspects to the appropriation of colonial heritage that are both emotional and militant, KANAL has decided to let all these voices express themselves and has allowed for a platform of exchanges, dialogue and artistic expression that will all run between March 2022 and March 2023.



Kinshasa-(N)tonga: Entre futur et poussière


The aim of this exhibition, presented by Twenty Nine Studio and Traumnovelle at the initiative of Sammy Baloji, is to reveal the city of Kinshasa through the many different 'ways of doing' and 'producing'. It will highlight the work of Kinshasa's artists, who bring a powerful fantasy of this shared legacy inherited from colonisation. First presented at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa (from 22 March to 22 April 2022), the exhibition will return to Brussels in September 2022. 


The Act of Breathing


The Act of Breathing was inspired by the eponymous poem by Congolese writer and poet Sony Labou Tansi. The aim of this exhibition is to promote exchanges and inspiration between the world of music and art. The Act of Breathing explores breath - the repetitive and instinctive force that is both a necessity and a potential tool for political resistance. The exhibition will consist of 10 in-situ works of art that will engage with the architectural and symbolic nature of the Asiat military base in Vilvoorde. At the same time, three other artists will meet in the 'Europa' space of Bozar in Brussels and show works that echo the programme of films selected by Monique Mbeka Phoba and that will be shown at the Cinematek in June.


Café Congo


True to its mission of reflecting on current Belgian-Congolese relations, Café Congo will offer emblematic figures representing Congolese artistic vitality a showcase in Belgium during a long weekend. This programme of artistic profusion includes: the sounds of Congolese rumba, dance, performances, workshops and exhibitions. Collectives and DJs will be at the helm of orchestrating a great closing evening that will also celebrate the independence of Rwanda and Burundi (1/07) who followed in the footsteps of the Congo.


Kinshasa (N)tóngá: Between Future and Dust


Kinshasa (N)tóngá presents a unique vision of the Congolese capital, its development, and its urban structure. Colonial legacy and the impact it has had on architecture in the third largest city on the African continent are themes addressed by the work conceived by the featured artists. (N)tóngá means “needle” or “construction site” in Lingala and therefore refers to the anarchic course that characterises Kinshasa's growth to date. Produced by Estelle Lecaille and Aude Tournaye (Twenty Nine Studio) in collaboration with KANAL-Centre Pompidou, the exhibition is structured around a scenography designed by Traumnovelle which, through the materials used, recalls the aesthetics of a city in the making. Kinshasa (N)tóngá: Between Future and Dust opens on September 23rd at K1, the pavilion situated across the water from KANAL-Centre Pompidou. This temporary venue will host a programme of events leading up to the opening of the future KANAL-Centre Pompidou.


Style Congo: Heritage and Heresy


Art Nouveau is the starting point from which the exhibition Style Congo: Heritage and Heresy explores how Congo was represented during the international exhibitions held between 1885 and 1958. Through contemporary artistic and architectural interventions and archives from the CIVA collection, the exhibition curated by Sammy Baloji, Estelle Lecaille, Silvia Franceschini, and Nikolaus Hirsch explores the politics of representation and cultural appropriation. It examines the traces of colonisation in Brussels and in the Congolese urban landscape and proposes a decolonial redefinition of private and public spaces. Exhibition produced by CIVA and Twenty Nine Studio, in collaboration with KANAL-Centre Pompidou as part of the Living Traces project.