Filip de Boeck

TOXICITY : Presenting the Lubumbashi Biennale 2022

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Abstract   Toxicity will be the central theme of the seventh Lubumbashi Biennale, which will take place in the fall of 2022. The biennale has been co-founded by artist Sammy Baloji in 2008 under the name “Rencontres Picha”, and offers a vibrant public platform to local and international artists and cultural actors alike. This year, six invited curators will be working alongside the collective and the Ateliers Picha (the latter under the artistic direction of Lucrezia Cippitelli) to address ‘toxicity’ as an urgent concern.

Obviously composed of two concepts, that of the ‘toxic’ and that of the ‘city’, the Biennale considers reflecting upon the link between contemporary life in the postcolonial urban setting of Lubumbashi and more widely in the urban Global South, and the impact of a number of industrial, economic, ecological, social and cultural processes that have historically contributed, for better and for worse, to the shape and dynamics of urban life in this and other parts of the world today. In this sense, Picha understands ‘toxic’ in reference to a wide – and historically multi-layered – variety of events, discourses, and practices.

The theme of toxicity, offers a starting point for a critical elaboration and consciousness of oneself and one’s natural, social and cultural environment, “as a product of the historical processes to date, which has deposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory.” (Gramsci) By focusing on the theme of toxicity, the Lubumbashi Biennale endeavors to open up a critical space of artistic engagement and reflection to start exploring the possible shapes such ‘an inventory of traces’ might take, in the hope that such a compilation will also tell us something more about the possible futures to envision from here on.

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Biography   As a Professor at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Leuven, anthropologist, writer, curator and filmmaker Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa. Since 1987 he has conducted extensive field research in both rural and urban communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Published Sep. 6, 2022 1:36 PM - Last modified Sep. 6, 2022 2:02 PM