The exhibition, by the Congolese/German duo Mukenge/Schellhammer, is due to open at the ifa Gallery in Stuttgart on March 10. The artists are showing works created between Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Germany, during their stay at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. The project is part of the »Roaming Academy«, which makes fellowships accessible to people in the home countries of former fellows.
Pool Malebo, a tropical river landscape, is a well-known location in Kinshasa. It has functioned both as a real trading center and a fictional surface for the projection of European fantasies since colonial times. Taking this international site of the transaction of goods and images as their basis, the Congolese/German duo Mukenge/Schellhammer explores the fictional potential of current representations of otherness in the multimedia exhibition Pool Malebo.
Embedding contemporary images and narratives within fantastic and speculative scenarios reveals the act of representing the other to be a process of exoticization which manufactures meaning and creates realities. Mukenge/Schellhammer probe the layers of real and illusory imagery that shape our collective (un)consciousness, exposing themselves to a process of strategic auto-exoticization as they do so. This results in collective paintings, which they actively expand in the exhibition through scenographic interventions, digital painting and experimental videos to create a multi-dimensional, multimedia narrative. Alterity and »the other« are not only presented or criticized, but are explored and questioned jointly in order to create other, more effective or simply more interesting images that can become part of our collective imagination.
The exhibition is designed as a continuous process of (re)making meaning. The digital and analogue paintings, experimental videos and installations were created as a series of works between Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Germany since the duo’s residency at Akademie Schloss Solitude in 2021 and 2022, and will be further developed by the artists during the exhibition. The ifa Gallery thus becomes a cartography of real and fantastic images that commingle in ever new constellations and de- and recode our imaginary worlds. Visitors are invited to become part of this process, to enter into conversation with Christ Mukenge and Lydia Schellhammer and to collaborate on a collective work that expands the exhibition in an open format.
The exhibition Pool Malebo, like the project Laboratoire Kontempo (www.labkontempo.com) by the duo Mukenge/Schellhammer forms part of a new direction taken by Akademie Schloss Solitude: In future, the Roaming Academy will be promoting collaborations and projects that originate during encounters at Akademie Schloss Solitude and are continued in other locations, including in the former fellows’ home countries.
As part of the Laboratoire Kontempo, Mukenge/Schellhammer have already hosted two meetings for artists they met during their residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude and invited them to Kinshasa for an exploration of postcolonial realities and a digital exchange respectively.
Akademie Schloss Solitude supports activities like these with the Roaming Academy, which are centered around experience, artistic and research work, and particularly on encounters at the Akademie. In this way, it accompanies fellows beyond their actual physical residence, and makes experiences (and privileges) connected with the fellowships accessible to people outside the Akademie and its immediate surroundings.