Mukenge / Schellhammer
Digital and analog painting, experimental video
Kinshasa 2021, Berlin 2022
Pool Malebo is a well-known place in Kinshasa, a tropical river landscape that has been both a real trade centre and a site for the projection of European fantasies from colonial times to this day. On the basis of this hub for the transhipment of goods and images, the Congolese and German duo Mukenge/Schellhammer explore the fictional potential of contemporary depictions of otherness in their multimedia exhibition Pool Malebo. Embedding contemporary images and narratives into fantastic and speculative scenes leads to a discovery of the act of representing the other as a process of making it exotic, constructing meanings and producing realities. Mukenge/Schellhammer process layers of real and imaginary pictorial worlds that shape our collective (un)conscious, and they subject themselves to a process of strategic auto-exoticization. This leads to jointly made paintings that they expand in the exhibition with scenographic interventions, digital painting and experimental videos to form a multi-dimensional, multimedia narrative. Otherness and the opposite are not merely presented or criticized, but worked upon in a shared process that asks as to its opportunities for designing different, better or simply more interesting images that can become part of our collective imaginary world.
Mukenge/Schellhammer comprises Christ Mukenge (b. 1988, Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Lydia Schellhammer (b. 1992, Germany). In 2019, the duo created the project »Laboratoire Kontempo« as a transdisciplinary and experimental platform for contemporary art in Kinshasa. The artists expose themselves to transcontinental conflict situations within rapidly changing social systems between Europe and the Democratic Republic of Congo and respond to their experiences and investigations in an ongoing artistic process that includes analogue and digital paintings and drawings, experimental videos, urban interventions and performances. Their specific collaboration makes it difficult to categorize and classify them according to binary notions of cultural context, artistic traditions and geographical origin. Their work is shown internationally, for example at the pan-African video festival »BodaBoda Lounge» (2020), the Guggenheim Museum New York//USA (2020/2021), the National Museum of the DRC(2021), ifa Gallery Stuttgart (2022) and Yango Biennale Kinshasa (2022), among others.