The 6th edition of the Lubumbashi Biennial , entitled “Future Genealogies: Tales from Ecuador”, explores the possibilities of redesigning the world’s map.

As one of the seven African countries that straddle the Ecuador, Congo claims its longest segment on the continent. Which positions the country not only at the heart of Africa, but also at the intersection of the globe, where the southern and northern hemispheres meet. By affirming this position, the Lubumbashi Biennial rejects the modern fantasy claiming that Congo is “an unimportant place, lying on the periphery of cultural history” in an effort to regain the country’s deep entanglement with the world and its central position, both past and present.

Under the artistic direction of Sandrine Colard, the Biennial wishes to explore the geographical paradox of being located in a region where history continues to be rooted in the depth of its soil resources, but whose unique position also has the potential to serve as a model to uproot established perspectives. Inspired by the notion of “decompartmentalization” of philosopher Achille Mbembe, the Biennial unfolds the equatorial line in order to deconstruct the centre vs. periphery or the “North” vs. “South” paradigms. This edition of the Biennial is interested in mapping these links and tracing these genealogies in a new way. At a time when the restitution of looted African works of art has become a burning geopolitical issue, and when museum institutions around the world are called upon to “decolonize” themselves, art and image have become front and centre in the change in global dynamics. The Biennial wishes to leverage this moment to produce new stories from the past and to re-imagine a plurality of futures.

Anchored in the history of the city and its photographic past, the Biennial is conceived as a two-pronged platform i.e. both historical and contemporary. The historical axis revisits the local customs of photography in Congo, both through colonial propaganda and by African practitioners of the time. Based on previous research and a new call for images, the integration of private archives into the reinterpretation of Congo’s colonial past makes it possible to reverse and reshape dominant historical narratives. In contrast to the contemporary situation, which still too often sees the West holding the exclusive right to comment on the colonial past, this exhibition is intended to repatriate the discussion on visual regimes
to the civil and artistic communities of Congo.

By deepening this reflection on the deconstruction of past narratives, the contemporary axis offers local and international artists the opportunity to explore the ways in which new constellations of ideas, people and communities are invented. The project is to shift the readings of our current world by taking the equator as “zero latitude,” and rebuild its links with the two hemispheres. How can we imagine present and future stories that do justice to other latitudes, while recognizing the interdependence of our planet? At a time when the urgency of climate change is relentlessly binding us, it is imperative to decompartmentalize old genealogies while producing new forms of solidarity that ignore dichotomies and succeed in projecting future entanglements.

The Lubumbashi Biennial is an initiative of the Picha association and will be held from 24 October to 24 November 2019.

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