Congolese rumba and Lumumba as an international icon of resistance are some of the best-known examples of the Congolese addition to pan-African thought. However, the country’s contributions to feminism and quilombismo, an emancipatory philosophy that originated in Afro-Brazilian communities, are less recognized. This one-day conference explores how all these artistic and intellectual productions born in the wake of pan-African ideas have travelled to and from Central Africa; how it resonates with the present and shapes new futures. Together, these discussions propose a renewed outlook upon the relationship between Panafricanism, arts and archives from a Congo’s perspective.
Projecting Congo: Pan-African Arts and Archives, is the second Brussels’ iteration of a multi-year and multi-sited series of public programs connected to Project a Black Planet: The Art and Culture of Panafrica, the first exhibition expressly devoted to surveying modern and contemporary cultural activity through a pan-Africanist lens. The exhibition brings together several hundred examples of creative production in architecture, design, film, literature, sound, and visual art, from the 1920s to the present. The exhibition opens at the Art Institute of Chicago in December 2024, and will subsequently travel to venues including to the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Summer 2025) and to KANAL-Centre Pompidou (2026).
Welcome with coffee & Introduction
Kasia Redzisz, KANAL Artistic Director.
Sandrine Colard, KANAL Curator-at-large.
Panel 1 – Pan-African Resistance in Congolese Perspectives: Quilombo, Feminism and Print Cultures
Political resistance has been at the heart of Pan-African thought. This panel explores archival, philosophical and artistic strategies of resistance and their re-actualization in the 21st century.
Moderator: Sofia Dati, Visual & audiovisual arts programmer at Beursschouwburg
- Joseph K. Kasau, visual artist, filmmaker and author & Stéphane Kabila Kyowa, curator and researcher
- Zahia Rahmani, writer, art historian, and curator. Head of the program “Histoire de l’art mondialisée” (Globalized art history) at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA), Paris
- Yala Kisukidi, Associate Professor in philosophy at Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis University
Panel 2 – Congo and Pan-African Icons
The production of icons and pictures has been crucial in rallying the disparate geographies of Pan-Africanism. This panel examines how the still and moving image have produced, animated and altered political thought.
Moderator: Matthias De Groof is a professor in film studies and visual cultures at the University of Antwerp and a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Amsterdam.
- Pedro Monaville, Associate Professor of African History, McGill University (Montreal, Canada)
June Givanni, Director of the “June Givanni Pan African Cinema Archive” (London, UK)
Toma Muteba Luntumbue, artist, independent curator, and art history teacher at ERG and La Cambre
Panel 3 – The Pan-African Overflows of Congolese Rumba
A pivotal heritage of Pan-Africanism long before it became officially recognized as such by UNESCO, Congolese Rumba is a music steeped in Black transnationalism. This panel examines how it has continued to resonate as a sonic Black political resistance and anthem of aliveness.
Moderator: Bambi Ceuppens, senior researcher and a curator at Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, in the Department of Cultural anthropology & history.
Kalaf Epalanga Ângelo, musician, writer, Spoken Word artist and member of the award-winning band Buraka Som Sistema
Dr. Charlotte Grabli, Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at UCLA History Department and in the International Center for Research on Slavery and Post-slavery (CIRESC-CNRS) in France
Sammy Baloji, artist
Projection of the film COCONUT HEAD GENERATION by Alain Kassanda
Every Thursday, a group of students from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria’s oldest university, organises a film club, transforming a small lecture theatre into a political agora where they hone their views and develop a critical discourse. Coconut Head Generation, a derogatory expression for narrow-minded, brainless youth, takes on a whole new meaning when the students turn this stigma on its head to claim their freedom of thought.
Post-film discussion with Gia Abrassart and Alain Kassanda
Gia Abrassart is an independent journalist and activist of decolonial culture, founder of the cultural space Café Congo.
Alain Kassanda is a Congolese French film maker and founder of Ajímatí Films.