Olafur Eliasson & Sammy Baloji

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s studio in Berlin.

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s studio in Berlin.

Olafur Eliasson, pictured in his studio, was fascinated by the intricacy of his protégé Sammy Baloji’s research. “The fact that Sammy in a way comes from two cities [Lubumbashi and Brussels] and that his identity has been shaped by that allows him to have a double perspective,” Eliasson says.

Olafur Eliasson, pictured in his studio, was fascinated by the intricacy of his protégé Sammy Baloji’s research. “The fact that Sammy in a way comes from two cities [Lubumbashi and Brussels] and that his identity has been shaped by that allows him to have a double perspective,” Eliasson says.

In a series of short but intense encounters, Olafur Eliasson encouraged Sammy Baloji to experiment and to work without self-imposed restrictions.

In a series of short but intense encounters, Olafur Eliasson encouraged Sammy Baloji to experiment and to work without self-imposed restrictions.

Eliasson and Baloji meet with architects at Eliasson’s studio. “Olafur has freed me up,” says Baloji. “I’ve learned that he really knows who he is. He can work with mathematicians, engineers, architects, but he always knows what he is doing as an artist.”

Eliasson and Baloji meet with architects at Eliasson’s studio. “Olafur has freed me up,” says Baloji. “I’ve learned that he really knows who he is. He can work with mathematicians, engineers, architects, but he always knows what he is doing as an artist.”

“Maybe the time I spent with Olafur was my art school,” says Baloji of his time interacting with Eliasson in Berlin.

“Maybe the time I spent with Olafur was my art school,” says Baloji of his time interacting with Eliasson in Berlin.

Olafur Eliasson’s studio is a former brewery that houses about 80 staff – craftsmen, architects, geometers and art historians.

Olafur Eliasson’s studio is a former brewery that houses about 80 staff – craftsmen, architects, geometers and art historians.

Baloji at an artist’s studio in Marrakech where his copper dome for the 2015 Venice Art Biennale was created.

Baloji at an artist’s studio in Marrakech where his copper dome for the 2015 Venice Art Biennale was created.

In an artist’s studio in Marrakech, Baloji tests motifs on copper plates of a dome he was creating for the 2015 Venice Art Biennale. The dome is similar to a church dome in Liège, Belgium. There are seven memorials to the Western war dead in Liège, he says. “This will be an eighth memorial – to the African war dead.”

In an artist’s studio in Marrakech, Baloji tests motifs on copper plates of a dome he was creating for the 2015 Venice Art Biennale. The dome is similar to a church dome in Liège, Belgium. There are seven memorials to the Western war dead in Liège, he says. “This will be an eighth memorial – to the African war dead.”

A craftsman works on a panel destined for the Venice Art Biennale. Baloji recreated images of scarification – the etching of a pattern on to the body, a practice common in Africa in the first half of the 20th century.

A craftsman works on a panel destined for the Venice Art Biennale. Baloji recreated images of scarification – the etching of a pattern on to the body, a practice common in Africa in the first half of the 20th century.

Baloji’s works for the Venice Art Biennale reflect his thoughts on the power struggle between colonizers and colonized in the Congo.

Baloji’s works for the Venice Art Biennale reflect his thoughts on the power struggle between colonizers and colonized in the Congo.

The Other Memorial, 2015, by Baloji was exhibited in Venice.

The Other Memorial, 2015, by Baloji was exhibited in Venice.

Baloji’s, Essay on Urban Planning, 2013, which was exhibited in  the Belgian Pavilion of the 2015 Venice Art Biennale, traces the evolution of Lubumbashi to a colonial obsession with flies.

Baloji’s, Essay on Urban Planning, 2013, which was exhibited in the Belgian Pavilion of the 2015 Venice Art Biennale, traces the evolution of Lubumbashi to a colonial obsession with flies.