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I began to develop the first “Imaginary Trip” series in 2016, bringing together concepts of the passage of time and the journey, while simultaneously meditating on where my society is headed. I visit spaces surrendered to nature to stage and mime their pasts, silhouetting their souls in order to preserve the collective memory that is slipping away.
Imaginary Trip II is set in Central Kongo Province in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, at a boarding school founded in 1936 by Brother Adrien of the Congregation of the Brothers of Christian Schools in the Gombe-Matadi area. The majestic building, known today as “ITP Gombe Matadi,” formerly “Central School” served as the central middle school for qualifying graduates from twenty regional primary schools. However, under the dictatorial regime of Mobutu Sese Seko and his “Zairianization” in the 1970s, foreign and religious schools were nationalized. Zairianization also encouraged a rural exodus, and gradually the place became deserted. Today, it is like a cemetery that has been left to its fate. In the prestigious building that once accommodated more than 500 students, today, one might count off by hand the pupils, and its heritage is but a phantom. In this setting I have staged myself, appearing as children, as teachers, as workers, and occasionally with current pupils. I view this intervention as a way to preserve the memory of this space, which I consider a part of my country’s colonial and postcolonial historical heritage.