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Title: The legacy of Belgian colonialism in contemporary lens-based art on, of and from the Democratic Republic of Congo
Author: Nugent, Gabriella Eimile Petrone
ISNI:       0000 0004 9352 5884
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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This dissertation explores the way in which contemporary lens-based art produced by artists of Congolese origin has contributed to our understanding of Belgian colonialism and its enduring effects in the Congo. It considers a group of contemporary visual artists of Congolese origin who grew up in the aftermath of the colonial era: Sammy Baloji, Michèle Magema, Georges Senga and the artist-collective Kongo Astronauts. The study situates their engagement with the colonial past in the wake of a new consciousness that emerged in Belgium in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a wave of remembering that was made manifest by the visual arts. By turning to a Congolese context, this project expands the conception of these events beyond Europe. The dissertation foregrounds artworks as productive and crucial sites for our comprehension of colonialism. It argues that the selected artists complement, and sometimes trouble, official historical accounts and provide alternative and often radical ways of understanding the past and the present in the Congo. It demonstrates the significance of photography and video in reckoning with the legacy of colonialism as well as the ways in which the colonial context comes to weigh on these transnational mediums. Furthermore, the selected artworks are connected with long-standing traditions in the Congo, countering a seemingly timeless and placeless global contemporary artworld. The dissertation simultaneously emphasises these projects’ connections with other geographical contexts, challenging isolationist claims around the Congo and linking it to wider histories and social and political movements.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available