Up to the present day, the Congo serves as a screen for the projection of Western as well as African ideas and fictions. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is famous for its vibrant art scene. Nowhere else in Africa is artistic creativity so diverse, inventive, and at the pulse of time. Still, in the past, too, people in the Congo brought forth impressive masks, figures, and designer pieces, many of which today rank as icons of African art.
Starting point of the exhibition are objects and photographs brought home by the art anthropologist Hans Himmelheber (1908–2003) from his travels in the Congo in 1938/39. For the first time, historical masterpieces and photographs are being juxtaposed with contemporary artworks in an exhibition. Notably, ‘Congo As Fiction’ avoids a one-sided Western view on traditional African art by placing its focus on renowned contemporary Congolese artists such as Sammy Baloji, Michèle Magema, Monsengo Shula, and Sinzo Aanza. The exhibition shows how artists – past as well as present – critically deal with and assess the repercussions of colonialism, Christian proselytization, and global trade.