The poster itself hold no boundaries – and neither does the title. The grim reality of Congo’s tragic past and man’s interests in the animal closely linked to our ancient ancestors, is the face of ‘When Harmony Went to Hell’ exhibition showing at Rivington Place, London.
However what I saw of it during the private viewing on Thursday evening is that Congo Dialogues fits the exhibition well; a visual dialogue through photography showcasing Congo from different perspectives and times. Two exhibitions which merge together to tell a grime yet fascinating story of the country’s past and hopeful present with a unique opportunity to view pictures from The Alice Seeley archives that where last shown to the public 110 years ago. The exhibition presents the English missionary Alice Seeley‘s human rights photographic campaign in black and white with Sammy Baloji‘s full colour investigation of the colonial legacies and fractured histories that haunt contemporary Congolese society today.
My journey began from the moment I walked into Rivington Place greeted with a quote from anti-colonialist philosopher Frantz Fanon; “Africa is shaped like a gun, and Congo is the trigger…”, before following the crowd of guests into Congo Urban: Rhythms of Syncopation and Suspension; Sammy Baloji’s photographs commissioned by Autograph ABP, then making my way up the Alice Seeley collection exposing the grim reality of King Leopold II’s regime in the Congo Free State.
The exhibition is on until the 7th March 2014 with events held between (see below for more). If you have any general interest in Congo, the African continent, history, documentary photography or human rights; this exhibition is worth paying a visit to. Congo Dialogues marks the 175th anniversary of Anti-Slavery International and the invention of photography.
Who Was There?…
Documentary photographer Nicolò Degiorgis visiting from Italy gave his thoughts on the exhibition:
The best part is The Album because of the idea behind the concept – revisit. I like works that are put together, seeing the relationship. The documentary work I liked too, however I think there are a bit too many.
Just before I made my way out, Nicolò stopped me to reveal a new revelation.
Up stairs! I didn’t see it before. The exhibition upstairs is my favourite.
When Harmony Went to Hell – Congo Dialogues: Alice Seeley Harris and Sammy Baloji
16th January – 7th March 2014 at Rivington Place London EC2A 3BA
+44 (0)207 749 1240
Private View – Thursday 16th January 6.30 – 8.30pm. Free, no booking required
Curator’s Exhibition Tour led by Mark Sealy MBE – Saturday 1st February 2 – 3pm. Free, no booking required
Keynote Lecture and Roundtable – Photography and Violence – Thursday 6th February 6.30 – 8.30pm. Free, booking essential
Panel Discussion – Politics of the Congo, Now and Then – Thursday 13th February 6.30 – 8pm. Free, booking essential
Film Screening & In Conversation – Sammy Baloji: Mémoire – Thursday 27th February 6.30 – 8.30pm. Free, booking essential
Curators’ Gallery Talk – Saturday 1st March 2 – 3pm. Free, no booking required
Film Screening & Q+A – Sven Augustijnen: Spectres – Monday 24th February 6 – 8.30pm. Spaces limited, booking essential
Passion – Celebrating Maud Sulter – Thursday 20th February 7 – 9pm. Free, booking essential
On Maud Sulter – Thursday 6th March 6.30 – 8pm. Free, booking essential
Brutal Exposure: The Congo
24th January – 22 September 2014
International Slavery Museum