Exhibition - Sidney Mishkin Gallery

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The Beautiful Time in Lubumbashi

Photography by Sammy Baloji

March 26 - April 28, 2010

Sammy Baloji's photomontages and stark photographic renderings vividly depict "The Beautiful Time" in Katanga, a province in what was once the Belgian Congo and is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The title, both ironic and sincere, refers to the middle years of the 20th century when the region's copper mines were populous, the economy was prospering, and the modern city of Lubumbashi was built.

Sammy Baloji, Untitled Photomontage, 2006
Sammy Baloji, Untitled Photomontage, 2006

The Beautiful Time in Lubumbashi: Photography by Sammy Baloji will be on view at Baruch College’s Mishkin Gallery, March 26 - April 28, 2010. Opening reception, Thursday, March 25, 6 - 8 pm. Free and Open to the Public.

Photographs of decayed industrial landscapes, slag heaps, and disused factories are not unusual in today’s world, but few people associate such images with Africa. Sammy Baloji’s photographs and montages bear witness to the region’s former productivity and subsequent decline, and initiate an important dialogue about postcolonial history, urbanization and the aspirations of young people in 21st century Africa.

Ten of the works in this exhibition are photomontages in which black-and-white archival pictures of mine workers (some of whom are prisoners in chains) and colonial administrators are superimposed on contemporary color photographs of abandoned mines. This juxtaposition of the past and the present creates a powerful commentary on the DRC’s social and political history and on the bleak inheritance of young people like Baloji, who have come of age in an era of political corruption and economic stagnation. At the same time, the images are a striking comment on the human costs of prosperity in colonial times.

Sammy Baloji was born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, DRC. He is a graduate of the University of Lubumbashi with a degree in Humanities Studies. His photographs and videos have been exhibited in Brussels, Paris, South Africa, Montreal and elsewhere. All the photographic works in this exhibition were produced in 2006 and are untitled. The exhibition also includes six “popular” paintings by Congolese artists, whose work has greatly influenced Baloji’s photographic practice.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with an essay by the exhibition curator Bogumil Jewsiewicki, professor of history at the Universite Laval, Quebec. The catalog is available at www.africanart.org/.

The Beautiful Time in Lubumbashi: Photography by Sammy Baloji is organized by the Museum of African Art, New York, and is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Verizon Foundation.

The Sidney Mishkin Gallery is located at:
Baruch College
135 East 22nd Street
New York City

Gallery hours are:
Monday - Friday, 12 noon - 5 p.m.
Thursdays, 12 noon - 7 p.m.
All exhibitions at the gallery are free and open to the public.

Zane Berzins (news office)
(646) 660-6113

Sandra Kraskin (gallery)
(646) 660-6652


The City University of New York