Megalopolis – Stimmen aus Kinshasa


Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a megacity with more than twelve million inhabitants. The metropolis is a global economic and cultural hub, and is home to over 450 ethnic groups. The city is slowly recovering from the ravages of civil war; however, its public sector has been in shambles for years. In light of this situation, the city’s residents have developed creative solutions to address the social and economic problems in their neighbourhoods. If one wants to survive in Kinshasa, one has to decipher and understand social and communicative codes, messages and symbols. Daily life is largely defined by the principle of “mayele”, which is the Kinoi word for “local knowledge” and is based on sharing and trading.

In the exhibition at the GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde in Leipzig, a Congolese artists’ collective has explored these informal and imaginative ideas and codes. The GRASSI Museum of Ethnography gave 24 artists from Kinshasa a "carte blanche" to have their voices heard in the museum. The principle of the "carte blanche" changed the rules of the ethnological museum. The exhibition wasn`t shown from the point of view of a European ethnologist; instead, the artists of Kinshasa were themselves conveying their concerns to museum visitors: Colonial past and its effects, violence, oppression of women, war, corruption, exploitation, environmental destruction, cultural heritage, spirituality, urban daily life. Works by fine artists, fashion designers, filmmakers and other figures from Kinshasa reflected the complex reality of the metropolis and enabled visitors to experience its dynamics.

Traditional sculptures and masks from the Congo appeared in many of the contemporary works of art and thus linked not only the past with the present, but also the museum's Congo collections with the metropolis of Kinshasa.

Artistic directors: Eddy Ekete (CD), Freddy Tsimba (CD)
Artist: Anastasie Langu, Azgard Itambo, Chéri Benga, Danniel Toya, Dolet Malalu, Elie Mbansing, Eunice Kamanda, Flory Sinanduku, Francis Mampuya, Fransix Tenda, Gabriel Lukinga, Géraldine Tobe, Hervey Ngoma, Hilary Balu, Jean Kamba, Jean-Jacques Tankwey, Judith Kaluaji, Louison Mbeya, Mega Mingiedi, Nada Tshibuabua, Olivier Nalumbu, Serge Diakota, Steve Bandoma, Vincent Lombumbe

Africa – International programme focus

As part of its new programme focus on Africa, the Federal Cultural Foundation is currently working to promote the exchange between artists and institutions in Germany and African countries.

More about the programme focus Africa


  • 1 June, 2019 to 31 July, 2019: Exhibition

    ArtLab & Musée d’Art Centemporain, Kinshasa

  • 1 December, 2018 to 28 February, 2019: Exhibition

    GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde, Leipzig


GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig

Johannisplatz 5-11
04103 Leipzig (external link, opens in a new window)