Edition 2012

Artist presented by John Fleetwood

Sammy Bajoli

Baloji’s photography deals with the exploitation of people, land and land- scape. His work Kolwezi is a simple portrait of a global economy, revealing the intensity and complexity of the consequences through the layers of constructed and disassembled narrative and mode. John Fleetwood KOLWEZI The first democratic elections take place in the Congo in 2006. The same year, we note a strong demand for copper and cobalt. Several international investors make a rush for Katanga. Among them, China promises to restore Congolese infrastructure in exchange for the exploitation of Katanga’s mineral resources. Following on from the Memory series (2004- 2006) about Gécamines, the state mining company, since 2009 I have been documenting artisanal mining in Kolwezi. This form of mining appeared after Gécamines’ collapse and, supported by the government, has become vital for all Katangese. Because of economic and territorial instability, miners live in tarpaulin shantytowns near the mining zones. These living spaces and ‘mines’ are temporary and they can suddenly become the property of industrialists when contracts are signed between the state and investors. The extraction takes place in mining sites once bored by industrial machines. These pits can be more than 100 metres deep. Armed with spades, the miners go down looking for heterogenite (a material containing copper and cobalt). To extract it, they must excavate tunnels 60 to 100 metres deep before reaching the seam (the layer of earth contain- ing the heterogenite). After which, they climb back up to the surface, carrying loads of more than 50 kilos. The miners are frequently victims of cave-ins, but these losses don’t stop the march towards gold. In the shantytowns, I was often struck by the presence of Chinese posters decorating the interior facades, featuring large Western or Asian cities. A kind of Congo of tomorrow. Hence I integrate these posters in my work like a utopian extension of a future springing up from the artisanal min- ing, exporting of minerals and the continual displacement of populations.

Sammy Baloji

Prints by Processus, Paris. Framing by Plasticollage, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Atelier de Mécanique, Parc des Ateliers.
Prints by Processus, Paris.
Framing by Plasticollage, Paris.
Exhibition venue: Atelier de Mécanique, Parc des Ateliers.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture