"These photographs are not collapsed histories of post-colonial African states or a meditation on aspects of late-modernist colonial structures, but a walk through avenues of dreams. Patrice Lumumba's dream, his nationalism, is discernible in the structures, if one reads certain clues, as is the death of his dream, in these de facto monuments. How strange that modernism, which eschewed monument and past for nature and future, should carry such memory so well."
Avenue Patrice Lumumba previously shown in Foam in Amsterdam, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, The Photographers' Gallery in London and Serralves Museum in Porto. Now exhibited in Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen examines modern history of Africa in the context of colonial and post-colonial architectural heritage.
In this project, the South African photographer Guy Tillim apparently tries to move away from the late-modernist architectural structures. Artist focuses on the transitional and hybrid sceneries that are to speak of the aspirations for liberation and progress in the post-colonial Africa. Looking at the photographs, we can’t help thinking of failure and horrific remains of the contested ideologies.
Lumumba was one of the first elected African leaders of modern times, assassinated only weeks after his victory by Belgian agents in a complot of the CIA and the Belgian secret service.
I saw these photographs only on the internet and at first found them disappointing, especially knowing some of Tillim’s previous work. Getting to know his intent to show Africans’ almost impossible aim, the way they try to rebuild and transform their countries, using the poor, available facilities, made me look with humility for peoples’ helplessness and not only dramatic forms of abandoned modernist architecture.
Still my favorite of Tillim’s work is Petros Village, Malawi, 2006 project. You can see the photographs and read more about it here.