The first “Imaginary Trip” series artistically translates the urge to travel, to transcend the fixed and inherited settings of Kinshasa’s urban reality. In staging myself in a train wagon, I reactivate what has been static and left to decay, and inject the exaltation and promise of a journey.
The first railway in Congo was a colonial enterprise, built between 1890 and 1898 at the cost of around 2,000 lives. It linked the capital city of Kinshasa—then named Léopoldville after the rapacious king of the Belgians—to the port of Matadi. Today, that connection still runs, although the DRC is poorly served by rail, and it remains very difficult to travel around the country.
This series, staged in abandoned carriages, falls in with what Achille Mbembe has described as “reimagining a new policy of mobility which implies internal migrations, formations of new diasporas, linkages with old ones, and a redirection of energies.” The imaginary trips and travelers address political concerns, including Congolese citizens’ desire for individual emancipation through mobility, and the failure of mechanisms to provide that, while insisting that mobility is first individually experienced. It reminds us that moving is internal as much as external. The carriages may be stationary, but I am still the the agent of my own travel. Daring to imagine is crucial in the process. Mobility is foremost an affair of the mind, a mind that oscillates between past, present, and future, and whose projections might one day be tangible.