About the part that art plays in a globalising society

Framer Framed

Jean Katambayi Mukendi
The Concentrator (2022) by Jean Katambayi Mukendi. Foto: Maarten Nauw / Framer Framed.
Jean Katambayi Mukendi, The Concentrator (detail), (2022). Installation view, Z33, Hasselt, Belgium, 2022. Photo: Kristof Vrancken
esla Crash, A Speculation (2019) by Sammy Baloji, Jean Katambayi Mukendi & Daddy Tshikaya. Foto: Maarten Nauw / Framer Framed
Jean Katambayi Mukendi. Photo: A. Nsenga

Jean Katambayi Mukendi

Jean Katambayi Mukendi is an artist and scientist who lives and works in Lubumbashi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has also studied and is passionate about technology, mechanics, geometry and electricity, which form a foundation for his artistic approaches. He creates fragile and complex installations animated by sophisticated electrical mechanisms. His technological discoveries are part of a search for solutions to the social problems of current Congolese society. His main source of inspiration is the permanent questioning of our society, which seems dichotomous.

Jean Katambayi Mukendi is an active member of the transnational artist collectiv On-Trade-Off, that conducts a long-term research project investigating the mining culture of Manono, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The artist-led research of On-Trade-Off was sparked by the large-scale mining of lithium in Manono, DRC. A site of historical extractivism, Manono has also become swept up in the race for green energy as lithium has become a valuable material for electrical technology. The members of On-Trade-Off created a collaborative platform for the exchange of trans-disciplinary knowledge in order to investigate how technological innovation has become dependent on natural resources, following chains of value across the globe.

In 2023 On-Trade-Off presented the exhibition Charging Myth at Z33 in Hasselt, Belgium and Framer Framed in Amsterdam. In this exhibition, the artist collective On-Trade-Off follows the trail of lithium. The starting point is the city Manono in the Southeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the world’s largest stock of lithium ore was recently discovered. The former mining town is a place that hovers between past and present. While the scars of the colonial mining industry are still visible, multinationals launch large-scale mining of lithium, an important resource in the race for green energy. Jean Katambayi Mukendi contribution to the exhibition constituted of The Concentrator, an installation for processing raw materials into usable ore by separate minerals from ordinary rocks and sediments. Inside the machine, Mendeleev’s elements, portraits of chemists and scientists are jumbled up thoroughly.

Jean Katambayi Mukendi was recipient of the Thami Mnyele Foundation award, completing a residency in Amsterdam to create new work for the exhibition, Charging Myths at Framer Framed. Jean Katambayi Mukendi has been shortlisted for Henrike Grohs Art Award 2024 (HGAA 2024).

Jean Katambayi Mukendi, The Concentrator, presented at Charging Myths (2023), Framer Framed, Amsterdam. Photo: Maarten Nauw / Framer Framed.


Exhibition: Charging Myths

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


Performance: Electrify Everything
Performance with artists Pom Bouvier b., Marjolijn Dijkman and Jean Katambayi Mukendi reflecting on the structuring power of electricity and its relation to resources and exploitation.
Opening: Charging Myths by On-Trade-Off
Opening of the exhibition, Charging Myths, by transnational artist collective On-Trade-Off.