About the part that art plays in a globalising society

Framer Framed

Sammy Baloji, Jean Katambayi Mukendi & Daddy Tshikaya, 'Tesla Crash, A Speculation' (2019). Foto: Maarten Nauw / Framer Framed

Picha and Framer Framed: A long-term collaboration

Picha is a contemporary art institution based in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Co-founded by artist Sammy Baloji and curator Patrick Mudekereza in Lubumbashi in 2009. Picha is an independent initiative aimed at supporting artistic creation in the DRC. Picha was founded by a group of artists, filmmakers, photographers, performers and cultural entrepreneurs and aims to reflect the artistic and social environment of the Lubumbashi region.

One of Picha’s main public activities is the Lubumbashi Biennale. Founded in 2008 as Rencontres Picha, it has become one of the most dynamic artistic events on the African continent, providing a platform for presentation and encounter for local and international artists and cultural actors. In addition to the Biennale, the art institution offers two educational programmes: The Picha Residency Programme, where artists are invited for research and workstay in Lubumbashi, and Atelier Picha, an artistic training programme focused on participatory cultural projects by providing workshops led by (inter)national speakers, mentors and project managers.

When art institutions meet

The collaboration between Picha and Framer Framed began in 2018, with A Blueprint for Toads and Snakes, a solo exhibition by Congolese artist Sammy Baloji who presented a commemoration of the history of exploitation and cultural formation in the DRC. His exhibition offered viewers a critical reflection on the ways in which mineral extraction and cultural structures have impacted contemporary life in the country.

A Blueprint for Toads and Snakes (2018) at Framer Framed, installation view. Foto: (c) Eva Broekema / Framer Framed

Two years later, in 2020, Framer Framed joined a long-term collaboration with On-Trade-Off (OTO), a transnational artist collective and research project initiated by Picha and Enough Room for Space (BE). On-Trade-Off explores questions surrounding the mining of raw materials such as lithium for technological industries and the economies that influence it. One of the participating artists, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, is also an active member of Picha. During his residency with the Thami Mnyele Foundation in Amsterdam he created The Concentrator – a new artwork commissioned and produced by On-Trade-Off, Z33, and Framer Framed – for the exhibition Charging Myths, presented at Z33 in 2022 and Framer Framed in 2023. The Concentrator is an imagining of a machine from the mining industry that processes raw materials into usable ore by separating minerals from ordinary rock sediments. The exhibition Charging Myths explored how technological innovation is dependent on natural resources, delving into our relationship with energy – from its colonial past to its unequal technological future.

Jean Katambayi Mukendi, The Concentrator (2022). Foto: Maarten Nauw / Framer Framed

Sammy Baloji’s work at the Lubumbashi Biennale 2022, with Framer Framed as a partner and co-producer, continued to Kunsthalle Mainz for the exhibition Unextractable: Sammy Baloji Invites in 2023. The exhibition displayed collective forms of artistic production that resist the ongoing toxic impact of economic, ecological and socio-cultural exploitation. Among those on display were works by Franck Moka and Isaac Sahani Dato, developed in cooperation with Framer Framed. On view until February 2024, Unextractable: Sammy Baloji Invites was co-curated in collaboration with Picha, Framer Framed and Reconnecting Objects, a research project of the Technische Universität in Berlin, Germany.

Tesla Crash, A Speculation (2019) by Sammy Baloji, Jean Katambayi Mukendi & Daddy Tshikaya. Foto: Maarten Nauw / Framer Framed

Planetary Poetics

In addition to exhibitions, commissioned works, and residencies, Framer Framed and Atelier Picha are participating in an ongoing educational exchange with the master’s programme Planetary Poetics (2023-2024). This is an initiative of artist Dorine van Meel and Framer Framed at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. Planetary Poetics enables participants to develop artistic research exploring key concepts of the ecological crisis, such as climate justice, land restitution and reparations, reproductive justice and constellations of co-resistance. In their partnership with Atelier Picha, Planetary Poetics invited guest tutor Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi – project and artistic coordinator at Picha – and fellow Sarah Ndele to probe the effects of (neo)colonialism and extractivism in the DRC.

The seminar series Counter-extractivism: Poetics of remedy and transmission was led by Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi, a cultural practitioner and writer who explores art practices of Africa and its diaspora and the relevance of globalism in the contemporary art world. Over the course of two months in 2024, students were invited to think about the role of contemporary artists in uncovering colonial power relations and imagining a different future. They explored the geopolitical history surrounding the establishment of the DRC, its history of extractivism and the context of its decolonization movements. They also discussed the meaning of working together in a global context and how to avoid reproducing power relations in international collaborations.

In countries with a colonial history that’s still palpable in the present-day, a collaboration between art institutions can examine a painful past, question an unequal present and imagine a possible future.



Extractivism / Ecology / Education / Colonial history / Planetary Poetics /

Exhibitions


Exhibition: Charging Myths

An exhibition by transnational collective On-Trade-Off exploring how technological innovation is dependent on natural resources.

Exhibition: A Blueprint for Toads and Snakes

A solo exhibition by Sammy Baloji

Agenda


Counter-extractivism: Poetics of remedy and transmission
A closing event for cultural practitioner Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi’s seminar on politics and extractivism at the Planetary Poetics master's programme at the Sandberg Institute
Workshop: Maintaining the Root
Three workshops and a performance on heritage by artist Sarah Ndele as part of the Planetary Poetics master's programme at the Sandberg Insitute

Network


Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi

Cultural practitioner, researcher and writer

Jean Katambayi Mukendi

Artist

Sammy Baloji

Artist

Magazine