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 explores these informal and imaginative ideas and codes. Works by fine artists, fashion designers, filmmakers and other figures from Kinshasa reflect the complex reality of the metropolis and enable visitors to experience its dynamics. The exhibition also casts a view on the very different cities of Kinshasa and Leipzig. What do their inhabitants have in common, what distinguishes them from one another? How do people in Kinshasa imagine Leipzig and Europe? What preconceptions do residents of Leipzig have of the Congolese megacity?
This is the first time in the history of European ethnographic museums that an exhibition is being entirely developed by a non-European curator and co-curator. It offers artists from Kinshasa an artistic platform to convey non-European perspectives and discourse. A modified version of the exhibition will be presented at the ArtLab & Musée d’Art Contemporain et Multimédia in Kinshasa with which the GRASSI Museum is cooperating. The project will be accompanied by a website and various apps.
Artistic director: Nanette Snoep
Curators: Freddy Tsimba (CD), Eddy Ekete (CD)