Sammy Baloji | Mémoire



Lubumbashi, once a Belgian-colonial town made prosperous from mining copper,an activity for which Lubumbashi was a vital regional center for centuries before the Europeans arrived, today casts a pale shadow of its former glory. In Mémoire (2006), Baloji collides past and present. He juxtaposes color photographs of today’s bleak, industrial landscapes with historical images drawn from the archives of the local mining company, which memorialize the colonial actors, indigenous and European, who toiled for and benefited from the mine. While the resulting images are indictments of the lasting legacies—social, political,environmental—of colonialism, they recall also the economic benefits produced by the mines, and the ruin made of them after independence. Appropriating and assimilating all of this history, Baloji transforms the diverse temporal and personal fragments into a contemporary reading, and he believes this opens away forward.