Yango II – Biennale de Kinshasa : Tokozela lobi te

Various Venues, Kinshasa, Congo, Democratic Republic Of The
08 Jul 2022 - 14 Aug 2022

Michel Ekeba, Kongo Astronauts, 2014

Michel Ekeba, Kongo Astronauts, 2014

The present is our only solid platform. The brilliance of daybreak, the opening of closed eyelids, the nightmares strangling the deepest night, are each in turn demanding our presence.

It all starts with the unequivocal assertion “We Will not Await Tomorrow!” Tomorrow, with its miraculous promise of pie in the sky, will never appear. The future constantly steals away from us, sneaky as a thief. It hosts a hope, which evaporates like a mirage. In the end, the status quo prevails. Future anticipations and planning repeat the past and prevent the real advent of things. The future obliterates the present, the only time fully available to us.

The unpredictable dwells in the present: in what we do with it, unencumbered by obstacles or promises. The present bears all potential and possible creations, actions, and life. It forges uncharted territories, unique and first-time stories, a day-to-day existence we are free to invent. The present is constructive, connecting the mind to the earth.

In Kinshasa, since Independence, an intense, active, varied art scene has been capturing the call of the present. The city resounds with its thousand echoes. Musicians, visual artists, and writers brave pawnbrokers, slumlords, and other speculators of solitary self-absorption. Artists uncover worlds where lives grandiose and minuscule are illuminated. They create their own spaces for meeting and debate; they invest in or subvert their relationship to institutions; they build their networks; they escape sloganeering. They contribute to writing a history of lands where violence has spread, through slavery, neo-colonialism, and post-imperialism, a history that also tells of the insurgency against these ills.

Yango II is the second edition of the contemporary art biennale founded in 2014 by artist Kiripi Katembo. Playing with the ambiguities embodied by the idea of “contemporary art,” it supports a plurality of art forms, their polyphonic structures, their mutations, and their colorful ecologies. Forms express forces; forces extend forms. Figures, overturned, become events; affects become effects. This interplay of displacements and metamorphoses reflects the different paths taken by the arts themselves.

The Yango II edition goes beyond the one-sidedness of a single exposition. It is diffracted, in order to advocate the idea of a processual, shape-shifting art fair, capable of asserting itself as a social force. It travels from town to town, covering sites where dreams are surging. These imaginings are diurnal: they require our perspicacity, rather than making promises. They reconfigure a tangible, concrete utopia, conjugated in the present tense.

All art is a matter of exposure. To expose something is to make it sense-able, available to the senses. Art exposes and reflects our exposed condition: that of daily precarity, but also from one exposition to another, to the unheard, the unexpected, to that which stirs us. When we come to own every sense of the word “exposure,” we are establishing lateral connections between art, politics, and social scenes all over the world. The emotional dynamics linking these movements are identified and strengthened. We mend and create the solidity of a world that welcomes and supports us, in the face of all obstacles opposing life.

By claiming Kinshasa as a hub of the planetary art scene, Yango II stirs the Kinshasan, Congolese situation up to resound, and to reason, with other contemporary conditions. The second edition, partly reprise, partly new beginning, combines undocile stories: those of art, of thought, of the Congo, and of the surrounding worlds.

Under the noonday sun, when the powerful light shrinks the shadows, our relationships to what can be sensed intensify. Dazzling at first, the dawn of the day celebrates the spontaneous. It greets all that defies planning. From Kinshasa, City of Land, Continent, and rapid River, flowing towards the Ocean and reaching other banks, Yango II announces different ways to go about art, to assemble and elicit new voices, new narratives that unsettle certainties. These stories are a call to action. They draw their strength and meaning from a collective invention, weaving links to other places in the world, to other poetic tropisms, forging transversal solidarities.

“Yango!” an exclamation that is widespread in Kinshasa conversations, becomes an appeal : Dwell in the present. Impose your most cherished values on it. Build the refuge city, the one that welcomes all assemblies, all relations, all wanderings. The place for visionaries haunted by daylight, refusing to sleep.


By Alonso Gómez & Kisukidi – Curators of Yango II


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