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. The GRASSI Museum of Ethnography gives 24 artists from Kinshasa a "carte blanche" to have their voices heard in the museum. The principle of the "carte blanche" changes the rules of the ethnological museum. The exhibition is not shown from the point of view of a European ethnologist; instead, the artists of Kinshasa are 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 reflect the complex reality of the metropolis and enable visitors to experience its dynamics.

Traditional sculptures and masks from the Congo appear in many of the contemporary works of art and thus link 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

  • Date

    01.06. –


    ArtLab & Musée d’Art Centemporain | Kinshasa

    01.12.2018 –


    GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde | Leipzig


GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig

Johannisplatz 5-11
04103 Leipzig