In Conversation: Lucas Catherine, Bie Michels and Anne Wetsi Mpoma
Enough Room for Space , Drogenbos, Belgium 29 Aug 2020
The monument in Mechelen, Lode Eyckermans, 1953 / right: 'The Copy' with the proposed new text, Bie Michels, 2019
On 29 August 2020 at Enough Room for Space, Lucas Catherine, Bie Michels and Anne Wetsi Mpoma will be in conversation around the development process and main concerns raised by ‘(Pas) Mon Pays’, currently on display at Enough Room For Space.
14:30h Enough Room for Space open for public 15:00h Film screening ‘(Pas) Mon Pays’ (65′) 16:15 – 17:45h Conversation
ABOUT ‘(PAS) MON PAYS’ BY BIE MICHELS:
Bie Michels was born and raised in Congo, in a house on the campus of the current University of Kinshasa (former Lovanium, the first university in the country, 1954-1971). The film ‘(Pas) Mon Pays, Part I and II’, together with the installation ‘The Copy’, are shown at Enough Room for Space. The exhibition will also present archival material in relation to the history of the colonial monument in Mechelen and the proposed new inscription.
As the title indicates, ‘(Pas) Mon Pays, Part I and II’, is in two parts. The first deals with a colonial monument in Mechelen and Michels’ efforts to decolonize this statue with a group of Belgian citizens with Congolese roots. The second shows the artist’s visit to DR Congo and is based on her personal history. The film is an attempt to let the past encounter the present and see further into the future of the postcolonial situation, in both DR Congo and Mechelen.
In Mechelen, the colonial monument by Lode Eyckermans in the Schuttersvest pays homage to thirty one “pioneers who died for the civilisation in Congo” as it is inscribed on the statue. One of them is Van Kerckhoven, who was a notoriously cruel commander during the reign of king Leopold II of Belgium. The statue is very intriguing, with two stylised Congolese heads, a male and a female, as a Janus image. It aestheticises what is problematically called the African race and thus could be seen as a tribute to it. However, this is in stark contrast to the inscription on the plinth, since the inscriptions only tells one side of the story, the Belgian one.
Confronted with this, Michels asked the sculptor Raf Vergauwen to make a scaled-down copy of the monument. She collaborated with a group of Belgian citizens with Congolese roots living in Mechelen and the surrounding area on a proposal for a new inscription for this copy. Involved in this process were Lieven Miguel Kandolo; Anne Wetsi Mpoma; Georgine Dibua; Jessy Ohanu; Michel Witanga; Joël Ndombe; Nadia Nsayi; Rina Rabau; Stella Okemwa; Don Pandzou; Floribert Beloko; Michel Mongambo and Sarah Bekambo.
Find further informations about the development HERE.
Lucas Catherine, author’s name of Lucas C.L. Vereertbrugghen, is a Brussels-based author who publishes on colonisation, the relationship of European civilisation with other world civilizations and Islam. He approaches religions from an atheistic perspective. Among other things he wrote about the colonization of Palestine: The Palestinians, one people too many? And Palestine, the last colony? About the colonization of Congo: Manyiema, the only war that Belgium won, Building with black money and Walking to Congo.
Anne Wetsi Mpoma is an activist and an artistic and cultural researcher based in Brussels. She graduated in History of Art at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in 2007. She is enthusiastic about visual arts and performing arts. After a short experience in an art gallery in New York she set up the association Nouveau Système Artistique in 2008 and Wetsi Art Gallery (WAG) in 2019. WAG aims to contribute to the promotion, diffusion and realisation of projects by artists of African descent.
Bie Michels is an artist living and working in Antwerp. In her work, Bie Michels focuses on observing, registering and questioning the representation of the ‘other’. Her work has been shown in Belgium and internationally, at venues including the 9th Contour Biennale (Belgium), Argos (Belgium), MHKA (Belgium), Netwerk Aalst (Belgium), Fei Contemporary Art Centre (Shanghai, China), Dunkerque 2013 in Dunkirk (France) and Hastings (UK) and Lokaal 01 (Breda, the Nederlands). She is a member of the project ‘Performing Objects’ at Enough Room for Space.