Kongo Astronauts, is an artist collective founded by the Kinshasa-based duo Michel Ekeba and Eléonore Hellio. Their multi-media practice includes photography, film, sculpture, and performance, and engages with Kinshasa’s alternative culture network. Kongo Astronauts’ Afrofuturist prism projects a reality that surmounts both the postcolonial chaos of their urban setting and the inchoate persistence of the jungle. At the same time, they beam a critical spotlight on the forces that have shaped this environment and continue to form it. In their images, we sense our own human fragility and catch our own reflections as we struggle with the dual yet manifold crises of late capitalism and climate change.
Kongo Astronauts’ images of travel—such as the astronaut in his golden suit, plastered with digital detritus made from minerals mined in the Congo, who stands in the belly of a cargo plane in their “After Schengen” series—“function as a platform for thinking through Earth’s decimation by an economic project rooted in the colonial project and amplified in the neoliberal era, ” as Dominique Malaquais points out in her recent “First Word” in African Arts. “After Schengen” also critiques the exclusion of African visitors—much less immigrants—to the colonial “fatherlands” that once exercised authority over them and that now shelter behind their shared European border of the Schengen states.
In their own description” Kongo Astronauts cross the vertiginous divide of worlds; to the troubles and syncopations of the contemporary cyborg, K.A. responds with artistic acts. A fluctuating collective, K.A. is built on the confrontation of experiences and in an attempt to resist the psychic ghettos that cover multiple postcolonial realities. K.A. manifests itself in the interzones of digital globalization where the past, the future and the present collide with the politics of privacy and the identity of urban and rural life. A player in post-discipline, K.A.’s cosmic apparitions and polysemous fictions engage us to take a multidimensional look at different forms of exile and survival tactics. Infinitely remixable, to the rhythm of crazy funkitude, K.A. is an interstellar visual, sound, textual and space-time concept that reinvents itself every moment. KA’s Space Station is co-piloted by Eléonore Hellio and Michel Ekeba. Other thinkers and artists regularly participate in KA’s spatio-temporal transmutations.
Kongo Astronauts question the conditions of production, creation and distribution of works that are sometimes difficult to classify which generate attitudes and processes whose forms are unstable and are actualized according to a place or a context (given or constructed) . The absence of fixed physical objects is integral to many projects carried out by Kongo Astronauts.
MICHEL EKEBA embodies Kongo Astronauts through continuous action stimulated by survival situations in the Kinshasa megalopolis. He fabricates his spacesuits from old electronic circuits loaded with coltan. Since 2013, these actions have contaminated captivating images captured by many creators passing through DRCongo.
ELÉONORE HELLIO widens the field of action of Kongo Astronauts via parallel universes and proposing other forms of contamination, notably through its films and its networks.
Bebson Elemba, Amourabinto Lukoji, Céline Banza, Daniel Toya, Cedrick Tamasala…
Michel Ekeba, Eléonore Hellio, Bebson Elemba, Céline Banza, Amourabinto Lukoji, Daniel Toya
2020 Kinshasa Chroniques – Cité de l’architecture & du Patrimone – Paris France
2020 “disCONNECTED 2020” – Dresden Allemagne
2019 Biennale de Lumumbashi – Lumumbashi RDC
2019 Heterotopic planetarium – Kaserne – Bâle – Suisse
2019 Kinshasa Chroniques – MIAM – Sète France
2019 Système Kinshasa ! – B’ZZ pour l’Agence Française pour le Développement – Paris France
2018 Traversantes – Le Tarmac – Paris France
2018 Kinshasa 2050, Les Femmes d’abord ! – Institut Français – Kinshasa RDCongo
2018 Festival MIDBO – Bogota Colombie
2017 Karachi Biennale – Pakistan
2017 Kinshasa 2050 : La ville du Futur ? – Institut Français – Kinshasa RDCongo
2017 Festival pour un temps sismique – Arts Hors-Format HEAR – Strasbourg France
2015 Arte en Orbita – Quito, Equateur South America
2015 Pan African Space Station – Capetown South Africa
2013 Lowave Film Festival – Johannesburg South Africa
Michel Ekeba, Eléonore Hellio, Amourabinto Lukoji
2019 Excerpts Postcolonial Dilemna #Track4 dans PAIN BENI (Ornella Mamba) / Mise en scène Valentine Cohen – Brazzaville, République du Congo
2019 Short film « After Shengen » Max Mo films / Laboratoire NEO
2019 Feature length film « Systeme K » de Renaud Barret
2018 Clip « Niama Na Yo » Album Polaroïd Experience – YOUSSOUPHA
2018 Short Film « Zombies » de BALOJI
2017 Repatriation of the White Cube IHA/CATPC – Lusanga RDCongo
2017 CFAO Inauguration – TEK Agency – Kinshasa RDC
2017 Photographic research by Belgian photographer Colin Delfosse (?)
2016 BALOJI Concert – JAZZKIF Festival – Kinshasa RDC
2015 Clip “Capture” for the EP “64 Bits and Malachite” by BALOJI
2015 Short film, « How to become Kongo Astronauts » de Borut Bučinel
2015 Biennale Yango (OFF) – Urban performance series – Kinshasa, RDCongo
2015 Clip « From Kinshasa to the moon » BONGWANA STARS (?)
2014 Series of urban performances in the city of Kinshasa – RDC
2013 Fligh Box Night Orange, Optimum Production – Kinshasa RDC
Eléonore Hellio, Michel Ekeba, Bebson Elemba, Céline Banza
/TranspatialIncidents, 2010. 2020. Duration: 11”28’’
/Postcolonial Dilemna #Track4 (Remix mix) within the multidimentionnal world of Bebson Elemba. Duration: 14’08’’ – 2019
/La Predic(a)tion in collaboration with Céline Banza, 2018. Duration: 21’51’’
/Postcolonial Dilemna #Track4 (Stay tuned). Duration: 8’38’’ – 2017
/Postcolonial Dilemna #Track0 (unedited). Duration: 7’30’’ – 2015
/Postcolonial Dilemna #Track3 (Unended). Duration: 6’31’’ – 2014
/Postcolonial Dilemna #Track2
/Postcolonial Dilemna #Track1 (Redux)