EN - In the streets of the metropolis of Kinshasa, young Congolese imagine their version of the colonial past. Around an empty pedestal that once carried a Belgian monument emerges an imaginary city where archival footage, artistic performances and present-day Kinshasa interact. This film is the first outcome of an ongoing exchange between young Congolese and Belgian makers, who try to relate to the colonial past through artistic work.
NL - In de straten van miljoenenstad Kinshasa verbeelden jonge Congolezen hun versie van het koloniale verleden. Rondom een lege sokkel die vroeger een Belgisch monument droeg ontstaat een denkbeeldige stad waar archiefmateriaal, performances en hedendaags Kinshasa op elkaar inspelen. Deze film is de eerste uitkomst van een lopende uitwisseling tussen jonge Congolese en Belgische makers, die zich proberen te verhouden tot het koloniale verleden, door middel van artistiek werk.
FR - Dans les rues de la métropole Kinoise, de jeunes congolais imaginent leur version du passé colonial. Autour d’un piédestal vide, jadis surmonté d’un monument Belge émerge une ville imaginaire où les images d’archives, les performances, et la vie quotidienne de Kinshasa interagissent.
Director's note Rob & Anne
“Even though Congo gained its independence more than half a century ago, the shared colonial history remains set in stone in equestrian statues and commemorative monuments in Belgium. (…) Unlike Belgium however, Congo does succeed in expelling its monumental specters of colonialism.” (Gia Abbrasart & Joachim Ben Yakoub, recto:verso, 2014 - our translation)
Profoundly interested in the debate on the representation of colonialism Belgian filmmaker Anne Reijniers and researcher Rob Jacobs travelled to Kinshasa in the summer of 2015, where they met up with Congolese anthropologist José Maria Masanga.
“Initially we focused on the different colonial monuments of Kinshasa, and their movements throughout the city. With the aid of museum workers we learned how the Belgian statues were removed from Kinshasa's public squares after independence, and found their way to the national Congolese museum of Mont Ngaliema.
While working on our research, another collaboration was taking form. Through the performance festival Kinact, we met a number of the artists who addressed the colonial in their artistic work. Unlike the static monumental images, the performances provided a more layered and complex representation of the colonial past. These meetings led to new artistic and filmic material, in which the artists and us entered in a game of attracting and rejecting, showing and not showing.
Échangeur is composed of images of static monuments exhibited in a museum, archival material of statues in movement between different sites, and active performances of young Congolese who imagine their own version of the colonial past. In the film, an empty pedestal that used to carry a Belgian monument functions as a junction, a point of intersection that connects different interpretations and forms of representation.
We consider Échangeur as one form of output of a larger project, an ongoing exchange between young people who are looking for ways to relate to the colonial past, its images and the continuation of colonial structures in the present. “