BACK TO ARTIST
Sammy Baloji’s works have their roots deep in the ongoing upheavals in Democratic Republic of Congo. For his installation at the 13th Lyon Biennale, macLYON, Baloji has erected a monumental structure that recalls the old dioramas in museums of natural history. This structure is flanked by a series of images entitled The Album. (a war-ravaged province) on a photo album project. The album in question contains old colonial photos taken by Belgian Commander Henri Pauwels during his expedition to the then Belgian Congo, between 1911 and 1913. Baloji took inspiration from these and layers them with new montages of photographs taken by Mvano and Baloji’s own images taken against the backdrop of the town, of Goma. In addition, fifteen archival photographs and watercolours from the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which retrace the steps of an expedition to the then Belgian Congo by the famous taxidermist Carl Akeley, are pinned to the wall alongside images showing the construction of the diorama that housed “The Old Man of Mikeno“, one of the first stuffed gorillas in the world. At the center of the steel structure stands a thirty-two page book, containing a rendering of Belgian Commander Henri Pauwels’s expedition to Africa, drawn by Chrispin Mvano, maps used by Carl Akeley on one of his African expeditions, geological, geographic, topographic and political, as well as diagrams of mineralogical studies by the Congolese metals and mineral trading company GéCam|nes.