The Discursive Program

Curated by Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein, Filip De Boeck, Lotte Arndt, Lucrezia Cippitelli, Mpho Matsipa, Sanne Fleur Sinnige and the artists of the Biennale.

The discursive program “Les palabres de la Biennale” proposes meetings and exchanges around the broad issues of the 7th edition of the Biennale of Lubumbashi.

First, a thematic approach, proposed by Picha: a focus on toxicity, both in its urban dimensions and as an effect of extractivism. 

"With this title composed of two concepts, that of "toxic" and that of "city" or "town," the Lubumbashi Biennial plans to reflect on the link between contemporary life in the postcolonial urban setting of Lubumbashi and more broadly in the global South, and the impact of the industrial, economic, ecological, social, and cultural processes that have historically contributed to the shape of urbanity in this part of the world and elsewhere." Filip de Boeck, Collectif PICHA

Then, an attention to the shaping of the biennial itself: the decentralized, horizontal, and collaborative curatorial design, the long-term commitments of the Picha association that initiated the Biennial, and the ongoing development of the Ateliers Picha over time.

Conceived as a series of podcasts that link multiple geographies and struggles to the realities of Lubumbashi, the discursive program bring together artists, theorists, activists and researchers who question the destruction caused by colonization and global capitalism. The discursive program also listen to the resistances and inventions of lives that are built in the debris of modernity, by artists and more broadly in society.

Podcast jingle 'Tambokenu' by artist Higelin Mutomb, voice: Gloria Mpanga.

The Discursive Program is supported by the Africa Museum (Tervuren), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and produced in collaboration with Bruxelles Appartient à Nous (BNA BBOT).

DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 1 : An introduction to toxicity, with Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein, Mpho Matsipa, Lucrezia Cippitelli, Bruno Leitão and Paula Nascimento; moderated by Smooth Nzewi and Lotte Arndt (EN/FR)
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 2: Reparation of Eco Systems with artist Luigi Coppola, Prof. Edouard Ilunga, Prof. Donatien Dibwei dia Mwembu and Bérenice Mujinya Kweyi; moderated by Lucrezia Cippitelli (FR)
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 3: Around Toxic Collections with Philippe Mikobi and Lotte Arndt; moderated by Costa Tshinza (FR)
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 4: Toxic-cinematic Experiences with artists Fundi Mwamba Gustave and Antje van Wichelen; moderated by Rosa Spaliviero (FR)
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 5: On Trade Off with artists Gulda El Magambo and Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein; moderated by Livia Cahn (FR)
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 6: On Trade Off with artist Femke Herregraven; moderated by Lotte Arndt (EN). In her research on the potential extraction of lithium, Femke Herregraven focuses on a "digital twin" of Manono. Using sophisticated remote technologies often without going on site, international mining companies are now creating digital models of their future mega-projects long before the ore is extracted from the ground. They are used to simulate the mining process to convince politicians and investors of their profit and profit potential. A Prelude to: When the Dust Unsettles is a prelude to an alternative digital twin by Manono that goes against the abstraction and monetization of the landscape and the inhabitants. Femke Herregraven is a visual artist who studies material infrastructures, geographies and value systems shaped by technologies and financial structures. Her work focuses on the effects of abstract value systems on historiography and individual lives. In 2016, she collaborated with a Dutch investigative journalist on the Panama Papers. In 2019, she was nominated for the Prix de Rome. She is part of On-Trade-Off: a transnational artist-led project on the new energy mythology around lithium, and a candidate for Creator Doctus (a practice-based doctorate) at the Sandberg Instituut (2020-2024). Researcher and curator, Lotte Arndt (Paris, Berlin) accompanies the work of artists who question the postcolonial present and the antinomies of modernity from a transnational perspective. As part of the international Reconnecting Objects project. Epistemic Plurality and Transformative Practices in and beyond Museums, she is currently leading a research project on biocides and antinomies of conservation in ethnographic museums. Between 2014-2021, she taught at the Higher School of Art and Design Valence Grenoble. She is co-founder of the online journal Trouble dans les collections. Books edited: Candice Lin. A Hard White Body (with Y. Umolu), Chicago University Press, 2019; Magazines make culture! Sort 2016; Crawling Doubles. Colonial Collecting and Affect (ed. with M. K. Abonnenc and C. Lozano), B42, 2016; Hunting & Collecting. Sammy Baloji (ed. with A. Taiaksev) 2016.
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 7: African Eco-Poetry with Xavier Garnier; moderated by Filip de Boeck (FR).
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 8: Toxic Tales from the African Anthropocene with Gabrielle Hecht, moderated by Filip de Boeck (EN). With a background in History and the Sociology of Science, Gabrielle Hecht currently a professor of history and anthropology at Stanford University, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute's Center for International Security and Cooperation. Her work focuses on toxicity, radioactive residues, mine waste, air pollution, and more broadly the Anthropocene in Africa. She is the author ofThe Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity (1998), and Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade (2012). For this podcast Filip De Boeck had a conversation with Gabrielle Hecht about her forthcoming book Residual Governance. How South Africa Foretells Planetary Future (2023). Filip De Boeck is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Leuven, and a member of the Picha Collective. Amongst other works he is the author of Kinshasa. Tales of the Invisible City (2004, with Marie-Françoise Plissart) and Suturing the City. Living Together in Congo’s Urban Worlds (2016, with Sammy Baloji).
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 9: Design Utopias: Up-cycling as a design imperative with Nifemi Marcus Bello, moderated by Mpho Matsipa (EN). This podcast explores the work of Nifemi Marcus Bello and his research project for creating an archive of African Design in relation to urban planning, craft, technology and modern artisans. We also discuss the relationship between necessity and design and the role of found objects, recycling and up-cycling local materials and horizontal distribution systems for African designed objects.
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 10: Artisanal Mines, Governance and Historical Generations in the Congo Copperbelt with Timothy Makori, moderated by Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein (SW). Conversation (in Swahili) between anthropologist Timothy Makori and writer and Picha member Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein, with a brief English introduction by Filip De Boeck. This podcast presents Timothy’s research about artisanal mining histories in Likasi and the Congolese Copperbelt more broadly. Timothy Makori offers a critical appraisal of the Copperbelt’s present as composed, entangled and layered with various pasts. The question that he has persistently posed in his research is to know what insights about social change emerge when the current liberalised present as a temporal period in the history of the Copperbelt is comprised of different ‘durées’, different temporalities that form a palimpsest of different generational experiences and residual layers of the past. How post-colonial is the present in the Congo Copperbelt? How unfinished and ‘toxic’ does the history of the colonial encounter remain? Timothy Makori is currently Assistant Professor of Globalisation and Development, at the Department of Society Studies of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science of the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 11: Metal Residues and their Impact on the Population's Health with professor Célestin Banza and professor Lubaba Nkulu, moderated by Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein (FR).
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 12: Medusa (2021, 72 min): Toxic Resonances and Lushoise - Solvay in the DRC, with artists Chloé Malcotti and Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein, moderated by Filip de Boeck (FR). Chloé Malcotti (born 1989, Fr) lives and works in Brussels. She is a professor at the ERG (Ecole de recherche graphique) and co-founder of the curatorial project Level Five Blue Screen. Through her films, but also in her photographs and installations, Chloé Malcotti explores the impact of the great European industries of the 20th century on the lives of workers and inhabitants, as well as their effect on ecological and topographical environments. And in doing so she reintroduces fiction into places where these industries are slowly retreating. In “Medusa”, a recent 2021 feature film that was screened in Lubumbashi as part of the Biennale, Chloé Malcotti tells the story of the Italian coastal town of Rosignano, known and loved for its extremely white beaches and intensely blue sea. But these extraordinary features are the toxic result of decades of pollution produced by a factory owned by the Solvay company, which produces soda.
DISCURSIVE PROGRAM 13: Primordial Earth (2021, 9 min.) with artist Léonard Pongo and art critic Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi, moderated by Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein. Primordial Earth (2021, 9 min.) with artist Léonard Pongo and art critic Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi, moderated by Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein. Conversation around the film Primordial Earth by artist Léonard Pongo, an ode to Congolese nature (fauna and flora) in images. With the art critic Jean-Sylvain Tshilumba Mukendi, the public of the Biasasa art center and under the moderation of Alexandre Mulongo Finkelstein, the film delivers its multiple facets through the words of the speakers.(FR)
IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS ON HUMAN LIFE : Maurice Mbikayi responds to this theme at the microphone of Jackson BUKASA and Cedrick YUMBA at Picha in Lubumbashi Who is Maurici Mbikayi? Maurice Mbikayi was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo in 1974. He graduated with a BA in Graphic Design (Advertising and Visual Communication), from the Academies des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa. He completed his Master of Fine Arts degree (with distinction) in 2015 at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town.