Sammy Baloji braids together the pre- and post-colonial histories of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by examining the industrial and cultural heritage of the Katanga region. His practice is informed by growing up in the area, where conflicts over land and extractive relationships with the natural environment manifest power dynamics between the Global North and the Global South. Charting the flow of materials, minerals and political ideologies through channels carved out by export and colonisation, Baloji’s work investigates the entanglements of colonial legacies and contemporary economic imperialisms. From this perspective, the artist creates photographic and sculptural assemblages that reflect on dispossession.

Baloji’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including Sammy Baloji, K(C)ongo Fragments of Interlaced Dialogues. Subversive classifications, Palazzo Pitti, Florence (2022); Sammy Baloji, Ecole des Beaux -Arts, Paris (2021); Sammy Baloji. Other Tales, Lund Konsthall, Sweden (2020); Congo, Fragments d’une histoire, Le Point du Jour, Cherbourg-en-Cotentin, France (2019); and Urban Now: City Life in Congo, Sammy Baloji and Filip de Boeck, The Power Plant, Toronto & Open Society Foundation, New York (2017).

He has also participated in group shows, including the travelling show Europa, Oxalá which opened in Mucem Marseille (2022), Gulbenkian Fondation, Lisbon AfricaMuseum, Tervueren (2022-2023) ; Congoville: Contemporary Artists Tracing Colonial Tracks, Middleheim Museum Antwerp (2021); Beaufort Triennial, Zeebrugge, Flanders, Belgium (2021); NIRIN, 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020); Our World is Burning, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2020); documenta 14, Athens/Kassel, Greece/Germany (2017); and All the World’s Futures, Venice Biennale (2015).

His work can be found in the collections of the Tate Modern in London and Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, among others.

He is the recipient of several awards, including the Culture Prize KU Leuven (2022); Dak’Art Biennale (2016); Prince Claus Award, Amsterdam (2008); and two awards at the African Photography Biennial in Bamako, Mali (2007). He has also participated in a number of residencies, including the Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography, Harvard University, Cambridge, (2017) and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (2014).

Baloji is the co-founder of Picha Encounters, a photography and video biennale in Lubumbashi.

He holds a BA in literature and social sciences from the University of Lubumbashi, DRC (2004).

Born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, he currently lives and works between Brussels and Lubumbashi.

SAF participation:
Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023)
March Meeting 2021

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