Georges Senga - Democratic Republic of Congo

Musée National du Mali

Une vie après la mort (2012)

In 2012, Georges Senga met Kayembe Kilobo, a humble professor based in Lubumbashi whose sartorial style, demeanor, and politics are heavily influenced by Patrice Lumumba, the first elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As an artist invested in photography’s capacity to chart the passage of time and reframe history, Senga collaborated with Kilobo to produce Une vie après la mort, a series of photographic diptychs in which archival documents and images of Lumumba are juxtaposed with photographs Senga took of Kilobo at specific sites across Lubumbashi.

Oscillating between archival appropriation and photographic performance, Senga’s diptychs stage a fictional account of Lumumba’s life that questions what might have become of the political leader barring his calculated assassination in 1961. Throughout the series, archival images of Lumumba as a smartly-dressed and formidable politician are paired with Kilobo’s embodied projection of an older Lumumba as a jubilant being, modest family man, or tranquil elder. Although the diptych structure highlights similarities between two pictures, the format equally emphasizes a sense of separation and incompatibility underscoring the temporal distance between the photographs’ production and the age of the subjects they depict. For example, in one diptych, a seated Kilobo peers leftward across a colour photograph to meet the gaze of a standing Lumumba captured in a black- and-white image. Characteristic of the eerie elegance of Senga’s series, this particular diptych dramatizes the act of simultaneously looking to the past while imagining a future. Eschewing overt nostalgia, Senga’s project questions Lumumba’s political legacy and the visual iconography he inspired, all the while intimating the unresolved and disputatious circumstances surrounding the death of the Congolese independence leader.

Born in 1983 in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo –
Lives in Lumbumbashi

Institut Français
Ministère de la Culture de l’Artisanat et du Tourisme du Mali