Sammy Baloji is an artist who was born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and lives and works in Brussels and Lubumbashi. He holds a bachelor degree in Literature and Social Sciences. Originally working as a cartoonist, Baloji began photographing scenes as sources for his cartoons with a borrowed camera. He received formal training in photography from Simon Mukunday and Marie-Françoise Plissart.
Since 2005, Baloji has been exploring the memory and history of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His work is an ongoing research into the cultural, architectural and industrial heritage of the Katanga region, as well as a questioning of the impact of the Belgian colonisation. His use of photography archives enables him to manipulate time and space, thus comparing old colonial narratives to contemporary economic imperialisms. His work is like a single story in a loop in which the same mistakes, the same injustices and the same traumas repeat themselves around the world. His videos and photography series highlight how identities are shaped, transformed, perverted and reinvented. His critical look on contemporary societies are warnings about how cultural clichés continue to shape collective memories, thus allowing social and political power games to keep on dictating human beha¬viors.
Baloji participated in the Bamako African Photography Encounters (2007), the Lyon Biennale (2015), the Venice Biennale (2015), PhotoQuai festival at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris (2015), the Dakar Biennale (2016) and Documenta XIV (2017).
He has exhibited at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, the Kunstmuseum aan Zee in Oostende, Framer Framed in Amsterdam, BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts in Brussel, the Tate Modern in London, the Africa Center in New York and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC.
He received several awards, including one from the Prince Claus Foundation in The Netherlands, the Bamako African Photography Encounters and the Dakar Biennale. He won the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative in 2014. Sammy Baloji is a co-founder of the Picha Encounters, a photography and video biennale in Lubumbashi.
At Framer Framed, Sammy Baloji presents a solo show A Blueprint for Toads and Snakes (2018). This exhibition, initiated by Framer Framed, travels in 2020 on to Lunds Kosthall in Sweden and Aarhus Konsthall in Denmark.