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iSee: When Harmony went to Hell – Congo Dialogues

Rivington Place

When Harmony went to Hell, reception opening

When Harmony went to Hell posterThe 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.

The welcoming quote from Frantz Fanon

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Congo Urban, a packed room of guests viewing Sammy Baloji’s exhibition on the ground floor

An interesting collection merging old with new…

Inside The Album collection

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The Alice Seeley Harris Collection: Sir Henry Stanley (1841- 1904), British journalist and famous explorer of the African continent who was approached by King Leopard in 1876 about Congo

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Following the captions to the images.
A majority of the photographs were taken by Alice Seeley Harris, however the authorship of some of the photographs is disputed and i some instances the author, place, date etc are unknown.

Right: c.1904-11 A woman with an ‘oyster’ cicatrisation on her face.
Left: Ngumbe Native, Upper Congo
The Bangalla ‘Rasp’ Cicatrice
Source: A Woman’s journey of 10,000 Miles in West Central and South Africa, Mrs John D Harris.

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Who Was There?…
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FashionFix: Sam Turpin reppin’ South Africa with his eye-catching African print TwoBop BabaTunde cap

A visit from South Africa: Sam with his brother Joe and friend Nikki visiting the exhibition

A visit from South Africa: Sam with his brother Joe and friend Nikki visiting the exhibition

guests to Congo Dialogues

Art Manager Pauline Etim-Ubah from Arts Potential visits the exhibition in relation to her own project which will be taking her to Congo soon

Artist Ange Mukeza makes a creative statement with her African print headwrap

Artist Ange Mukeza makes a creative fashion statement with her African print headwrap

SiStars wrap it up with their statement headwraps

SiStars wrap it up with their statement headwraps

Italian Photographer Nicolò Degiogis

Italian Photographer Nicolò Degiogis, behind him Sammy Baloji captures Urban Congo

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
http://www.rivingtonplace.org
info@rivingtonplace.org

EXHIBITION EVENTS:

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

SPECIAL EVENTS:

Passion – Celebrating Maud Sulter – Thursday 20th February 7 – 9pm. Free, booking essential

On Maud Sulter – Thursday 6th March 6.30 – 8pm. Free, booking essential

Associated Exhibition
Brutal Exposure: The Congo
24th January – 22 September 2014
International Slavery Museum
Liverpool
UK

When Harmony went to Hell; Congo Dialogues at Rivington Place

When Harmony went to Hell; Congo Dialogues at Rivington Place

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12 thoughts on “iSee: When Harmony went to Hell – Congo Dialogues

  1. Reblogged this on Travel Making Kai 🙂 and commented:

    Be transported to Congo through a visual dialogue of the countries brutal past and hopeful future. This photographic exhibition is showing at the Rivington Place, Shoreditch, London. Also checkout upcoming events in relation to this exhibition listed at the end of this post.
    This weekend I’ll be focusing on Congo with my blog posts! Stay posted and be sure to follow my student blog: http://www.theefedstudent.wordpress.com
    so you don’t miss out!
    Travel Making Kai x

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