robertogreco + zaire   4

At MoMA, Bodys Isek Kingelez Finally Gets the Retrospective He Deserves - Artsy
"Due to Kingelez’s “lack of known art historical precedents,” Suzuki writes in the catalogue, “[the work] evades the genealogy that we love to document and trace.” While there are no artists known to have made anything quite like Kingelez did, however, there is also no shortage of associations with the visual culture of Kinshasa, the capital of what is now the DRC. “I draw my ideas from Africa,” Kingelez once said. And as indicated in catalogue texts by Suzuki, British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, and Chika Okeke-Agulu, a Nigerian artist and art historian at Princeton University, Kingelez must be understood in the postcolonial context of the history and culture of Kinshasa."


“Without a model, you are nowhere. A nation that can’t make models is a nation that doesn’t understand things, a nation that doesn’t live." –Bodys Isek Kingelez]
bodysisekkingelez  congo  utopia  art  architecture  cities  models  modelmaking  classideas  africa  zaire  jeanpigozzi  okwuienwezor  sarahsuzuki  drc  democraticrepublicofthecongo  uban  urbanism  sculpture  davidadjaye  chikaokeke-agulu  chérisamba  moké  kinshasa 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Everything Is Yours, Everything Is Not Yours — Matter — Medium
"Claire, unlike me, was not a kid when we got asylum in the United States, so nobody sent her to school or took her in. Instead, she worked as a maid, cleaning 200 hotel rooms a week."

"Claire kept on her toughest, most skeptical face, because she knows more about the world than I do. I leapt up onto the set smiling, because I learned some really useful skills as a refugee — like, I always could read what people wanted me to do."

"Around town, some people treated me like an egg, the poor, fragile refugee girl. People wanted to help in the ways that they wanted to help. One day one of Mrs. Thomas’s friends picked me up at school in her convertible, handed me a pair of sunglasses, and said, “We’re going shopping today. Call me Auntie Wilma.” She became my godmother of shopping. We drove to Nordstrom’s."

"Claire always taught me everything is yours, everything is not yours. The world owes you nothing; nobody deserves more or less than the next person. Even as a refugee she always kept one dignified outfit — early on, a crisp white blouse, well-fitting flare jeans, short black boots; later, a brown suit — so she could present herself to anybody, anywhere, as a smart, enterprising young woman, period. She asked no pity, no permission. She was a fact of life, an equal. Nobody needed to know more.

At Hotchkiss, Claire’s attitude, along with my refugee skills, served me well: Whose behavior do I model to achieve in this place? Who has real power and who is bluffing? Where are the dangers and how do I escape? My ability to hack the system got me there, into those long halls filled with portraits of pale, square-jawed men. But it couldn’t protect me from my inner life. I was also alone for the first time, away from Claire and the Thomases. I was 20 and felt so old and so young. One day, in a philosophy seminar, I sat around a table with my fellow students, the boys in sports jackets, the girls in sweaters. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. The professor gave us a thought experiment: You’re a ferry captain with two passengers. Your boat is sinking. One passenger is old and one is young. Who do you save?

With this, my veneer of decorum started to crack. Before I arrived on campus I asked the headmaster not to share my history. Nobody knew who I was. “Do you want to know what’s that really like?” I blurted out. “This is an abstract question to you?” Everybody stared.

A few weeks later, around that same seminar table — mahogany, with a view of the golf course — the professor asked us all to share the presentations we’d prepared on whether or not to send troops into a Black Hawk Down-like war scenario, like in Somalia. I cracked for real. “You have no idea, do you?” I yelled as one girl spoke. “You’ve never been in that scenario. What gives you a right to even talk? This is real. That’s me — and I have a name, and I’m alive and there are people out there who are dead, or they’re living but they’re checked out, and they hate the world because people in your country sat there and watched all of us getting slaughtered.” I ran out of class.

When I returned to fetch my bag, the professor asked me to meet him later in his office. He was in his mid-50s, with a salt-and-pepper beard, contained but kind. He told me that I needed to learn how to be a less emotional student. I did not agree. “I can’t be less emotional. It’s personal,” I said, all the while thinking that I didn’t survive all that horror to sip tea and join his club. I dropped the seminar and started therapy.

The following fall, at Yale, I tried again — psychology, history, and political science classes, to learn about the world abstractly. But those courses didn’t help me make sense of my life. I found them unnerving, intellectualized, and cold. So I built a private curriculum. My sophomore year I signed up for a class on the intense, inscrutable German writer W. G. Sebald because Sebald had written a book called On the Natural History of Destruction, and that sounded like my history. Sebald dropped into his books random-seeming photographs of libraries, eyes, animals, windows, and trees, as a way to try to capture the mass amnesia that fell over his country after the Second World War.

Ever since my freakout at Hotchkiss, I’d been on a mission to piece together who I was. I’d been looking at my hands — they were my mother’s hands. I’d been looking at my feet — my right foot in particular, it looked like my father’s foot. I knew I couldn’t understand myself through my American family or my classmates in their YALE sweatshirts and J. Crew skirts, even though I dressed like them. But I had so few concrete artifacts from my past — just a vinyl pencil case from South Africa and a photograph of myself at age four, dressed up for my aunt’s wedding, that I’d now hidden so deep that I could no longer find it. But Sebald offered a method, a technique for navigating out of the fog: He implied that if a person wades deep enough into memory, and pays close enough attention to the available clues, a narrative will emerge that makes moral and emotional sense.

I read all of Sebald’s books — The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo. Then I started rereading. I also made a practice each day of walking by Annette, a woman who stood in front of Graduate Hall with a bucket of flowers that she purchased in bunches at the grocery store and sold as singles for a tiny profit. She was a fighter. Almost nobody noticed her until she called out, “Hey, sugar, come buy some of my flowers.” She had nothing to do with most students’ impressive, Ivy League lives. But to me she was a clue, a link to a buried past, a reminder of my sister who used to sell anything — salt, meat — so that she could save enough money for us to try to escape our deadening refugee lives. I had so many questions. Why did I use the GPS map on my phone, even on campus, when I knew where I was going? Why did I obsessively collect buttons and beads? Why did I talk so much — was I afraid I’d disappear? After Annette, I turned down Hillhouse Avenue and took pictures of the roots and vines growing outside the Yale cemetery. Then I studied the patterns in the images to see if they matched the patterns of the veins in my hands.

Once back in my dorm room, I retreated to the nest of pillows I built on my bed and pulled out my worn copy of Austerlitz, Sebald’s novel about a middle-aged man, who, as an infant, was shipped out of Czechoslovakia by his Jewish parents on the kindertransport, though nobody ever told him this. I twisted my earbuds to listen to Austerlitz on audiobook as I read. When my fair, green-eyed boyfriend, Ian, returned from his day — political science, crew team — I said, “Listen to this! Everything is connected!” I’d been with Ian for two years. I loved him and clung to him, but he often joked that I was having a more intense relationship with Sebald than I was with him. And it was true, in a way: I did want Ian to care more about Sebald, to interrogate the details of his own life. For instance, Ian was constantly playing and twisting pieces of paper or anything small in his hands, a nervous tic. But he wasn’t inclined to assigning much meaning to this, he didn’t want to investigate why he behaved as he behaved.

“Clementine, you’re so weird,” Ian said, gently dismissing me.

Still, my own interrogations did not feel optional. Why did I drink only tea, never cold water? Why did I cringe when the sun turned red?"

"We walked another week or two, south toward Maputo, until immigration again picked us up and put us in a camp, this one surprisingly nice and run by Italians. I wanted to stay forever, but Claire felt staying in a good camp was even worse than staying in a bad one — what if we started to think this life was okay?"

"I didn’t talk about my past. I didn’t want to be that refugee girl, I didn’t want to open that box. When I was in eighth grade, my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. Our first day there we visited the battle field at Antietam. I learned that 23,000 people had died there in a single day. Twenty-three thousand people. In one day. I broke down. The next day we visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum, where a docent handed me an identity card. It had a picture of a bald German man with round glasses — Jacob Unger, a salesman who died in the Sobibor extermination camp. He had two children and taught Hebrew in the evenings. My whole defensive shell cracked. Nobody in my family talked about all the people we knew who had been killed. I couldn’t hold it all inside anymore. At the Vietnam Memorial, I sat down and sobbed. I felt ashamed of being a human. I felt mad at everything and everyone. I’d thought I was the only one carrying this around and now… all those names."

"I still often feel like the seven-year-old girl, waiting for water at the refugee camp in Burundi, trying to assert that I have a right to take up space. I scan every room for the exits, in case I need to run, and I read people’s faces and body language so I know how they’d like me to walk, talk, and gesture, what they’d like me to do. I know I am ridiculously privileged. I now have so much, and I used to be considered worthless, and nothing about who I am changed. I try to be grateful, proactive, and normal."

"People listen, and they don’t listen. They’re amazed and moved, and they look bored and proud of themselves, like they’re checking a box. I try to be relevant and not frightening. I totally freaked out watching The Hunger Games movie. Maybe you did, too? Some people pity me, and want to help me, and can’t stand the idea that I am not defeated and could help them as well. Others cast me as a martyr and a saint: You must be so strong, so brave. You must have learned so much. A few ask if I feel guilty for surviving. Uh, no. I did everything I could … [more]
2015  refugees  clemantinewamariya  elizabethweil  rwanda  burundi  zaire  drc  congo  southafrica  tanzania  malawi  mozambique 
june 2015 by robertogreco
e-flux journal 56th Venice Biennale – SUPERCOMMUNITY – Child as Material
"It’s curious how a specific seam of children’s literature from the 1970s shows a consciously pedagogical impetus on the part of the author in forming the child protagonist of a book, to make sure the reader realizes the character has agency. There are also places—inside of the book but also outside of the book—where, for example, a child protagonist gives a critique of the material and of his own role as witness, for instance declaring that it’s simply B-O-R-I-N-G. We laugh, dismiss it, and go on. A very loud critique; then, laughter. But this call is political. There is no moment of recognition, on our part, of his agency, his speech, his anything. Perhaps the child cannot be political or radical. In order to have politics and radicalism you don’t necessarily need an audience. But you do need an ear. Or you need something that heeds your call, right? And instead we laugh.

If we determine that the child is, in fact, radical material superseding the boundaries of its subjecthood, what are the limits of that radicality? Can the child as political material align with our own labyrinthine positions? How does the child as material cast into high relief our own desires for an agent to rupture specific social orders—from the child soldier to the matricidal teen, from the emo kid to the runaway train hopper? This child as radical material for the political may actually function at the basis of politics: the question of how to speak genuinely, to communicate. And yet, kids don’t acquire language in the way adults understand it until later.

Children are outside. They’re “other” in the classical Lacanian sense—sheathed in their alien status—they’re like the other. And that’s why there’s also a close relationship between the colonial project and the idea of children. The Amahuaca Indians that Cornell Capa photographs in Peru are often referred to as childlike. What is interesting in the question of the child as material is that, as a scholar, one usually never finds writing on how colonialism, in its many forms, relies on the production of children.

If you’re looking for the child’s political voice, you have to do a little searching. It’s an oblique voice. It’s a sideways voice. The child soldier, for instance, is a really old phenomenon that is about exploitation in every way possible. But you do find gaps even amongst child soldiers, in which some sort of resistance is expressed. In Liberia many child soldiers build fascinating mythologies around themselves. There was a young woman who went by the name of Black Diamond. She was invincible to bullets, and would often go into battles naked. She combined the logic of magic and the logic of a fantasy world. Which is not to say that she had a political voice in any sense of being free to express herself. But there are these moments where style choices would become mythological and cultural interventions. Another thing that happened in Liberia was that a lot of young boys would go into battle wearing wigs and wedding dresses. If you’re looking for political speech in children, it has to be approached in the same way cultural work is approached: you may not possess the means of production, but you can say something very important about the way the system functions."

"Take the family band, for instance—the Jackson 5, which we know were relatively coercive, or even The Shaggs, which were a little more awkward because the daughters are teenagers and the dad is making them play in a really bad band that is also kind of great. Moreover, Michael Jackson, as nestled amongst his family members, here could stand as the ultimate production of a child, as he was also well-known for having a very hard time moving past childhood. Michael was so uncanny as a child for being able to express adult feelings of longing without actually being an adult, and then when he became an adult he surrounded himself with children and whimsical amusement parks made for children. In her book The Argonauts Maggie Nelson briefly touches on the crystallization of Michael’s desire for suspension: “Michael doted on Bubbles. But Michael would also rotate the chimp out of service as it aged and replace it with a younger, newer Bubbles.” When Bubbles ceased to be a “child,” it was time for another. Could there be another family band somewhere, consisting entirely of retired Bubbles?

Is it possible that the family band is also a positive thing? Many kids spend their childhood in school studying. The family band creates less of a sense that there is a right way and a wrong way to do certain things; that a pedagogy can be forged on the road and amongst kin. There is always an element of captivity to the family band (on the tour bus; in the rehearsal schedule) just as when a kid is in school, but then there can also be an idea that getting it wrong or having some sort of actual imaginative play can be more scintillating. And you often see this difference being disciplined out of children, through education, or through literature.

In thinking about these grounds called the child, it seems that the child always exists for the adult. The adult gets to mold the child. Is it even possible to release the child from the mother mold? Both parents and children, original object and replicant, experience a sort of parallel Stockholm Syndrome: both identify with their captor, both want to be freed, and both imitate one another’s hostilities. Is “captivity” an offensive word to apply here, as it also refers to the nation-state and its nonsymbolic relationship to captives? Probably not. The West is obsessed with the axis of freedom and bondage. Everything is projected onto this axis in the most ridiculous way, with weird inversions happening at the poles. Children are often thought of as free, right? It’s completely arbitrary. How is it even possible that children are free?"
children  beatrizbalanta  benjgerdes  jenniferhayashida  christophermyers  briankuanwood  marywallingblackburn  emmanuelleguattari  colonialism  politics  performance  pageantry  congo  drc  zaire  neoliberalism  art  childsoldiers 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Mobutu, Roi Du Zaire Le Maitre Du Jeu - YouTube
"Ce documentaire dresse un portrait de l'ancien dictateur de l'ex-Zaïre. C'est en 1965 que Mobutu prend le pouvoir par un coup d'Etat dans l'ex-Congo belge. Il n'hésite pas à collaborer avec la CIA pour assassiner son acolyte Patrice Lumumba et à faire régner la terreur pour devenir le "guide suprême". Il devient l'homme le plus riche du monde, accumulant richesses et résidences étrangères alors que la misère règne dans son pays rebaptisé le Zaïre. Dans les années quatre-vingt-dix, la maladie le gagne et il quitte le pouvoir apres une rebellion armée."
drc  zaire  history  congo  belgiancongo  africa  towatch  documentary  mobutuseseseko 
january 2015 by robertogreco

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