Sammy Baloji & Lázara Rosell Albear

Bare-Faced is a transdisciplinary three-part project consisting of experimental video, photography, and performance.  Sammy Baloji & Lázara Rosell Albear’s collaboration marks an attempt to overcome the divisions imposed by colonial history, which obscures the intrinsic connection between peoples of the African diaspora in the Americas and the root cultures they emerged from. Started in 2011, their joint project signifies a fruitful meeting of two artists from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cuba in search of a common history and its imprint in contemporary culture.

The film begins with the voice over of a historian delivering an anthropological record, which refers to the issue of restitution of relics – particularly the skull of Congolese chief Lusinga Congo – and largely addresses Belgian colonizers’ cruelty and its link to museum collections built from bounties appropriated during massacres. Constructed as a collage, the narrative assembles historical evidence with personal memory to disentangle the West African spiritual heritage kept alive in Rosell Albear’s Cuban family environment. In a Skype call between Cuba and Belgium, the artist queries her mother about the tradition of Palo Monte – an exclusively male religion originated in Congo called Palo Mayombe. Mother and daughter share details of the rituals performed by family members, spanning from commands to scarification – a subject central to Sammy Baloji’s archival research. From the mother’s account, which incarnates the repository of tradition and memory, the practice is kept alive to the present despite financial and gender constraints.

Through performative action, the film also metaphorically enacts historical moments in the creation of bridges between the American diaspora and Africa. Such is a symbolic reenactment of the mega event ‘The Rumble of the Jungle’, organized by promoter Don King in Kinshasa on the occasion of heavyweights Muhammad Ali vs Georges Foreman boxing match under Mobutu in 1974. The concurrent concert presented the likes of super star Cuban performers Celia Cruz and Fania All Stars and Puerto Rican singer Hector Lavoe, alongside James Brown and other African American bands in a memorable attempt to reconcile historical relations otherwise tinted by Mobutu’s totalitarian rule. Additionally, the film includes a performance composed of a video screening of Congolese dancers sketching moments of trance, alongside the artist’s intense drumming session.



Democratic Republic of Congo - Cuba




Sammy Baloji & Lázara Rosell Albear

Sammy Baloji (b. 1978, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo) is a conceptual photographer whose works explore the culture, architecture, and the material heritage of the Katanga region of DRC, questioning the narratives of colonialism by exploring archives. His employment of photographic documentation in his celebrated series of photomontages has gained him widespread international recognition.

Lázara Rosell Albear (b. 1971, Cuba) is a Cuban-Belgian artist with a cross-medial practice, ranging from the research of sound and performance to the production of events and films. She explores movement, migration, transformation, interactivity and its effects on the human condition through a mix-media approach using dance, music, and theater.





Thursday, 3 November, 2016

BARE-FACED <span>2015</span>
BARE-FACED <span>2015</span>
BARE-FACED <span>2015</span>