Sammy Baloji

Sammy Baloji

The protégé

Published in 2014

Artist-photographer Sammy Baloji works between Belgium and his native Democratic Republic of Congo where he creates haunting photomontages of his homeland. “I use photography as a tool of observation to write on my society,” says Baloji whose photographs have been praised for their “rich form and strong content” by the director of London’s Tate Modern. Baloji graduated from the University of Lubumbashi in Katanga Province and began his career as a comic-book artist. In 1993, he helped establish the Vicanos Club art collective and went on to focus on photography, creating photographic series that have been widely exhibited in Europe the U.S. and Africa. His most famous series, Mémoire (Memory, 2006), juxtaposes images of Katanga’s once-rich mining industry with landscapes of today’s industrial ruins. Winner of the Prix Afrique en création (2007), the Prince Claus Award (2008) and the Spiegel Prize (2012), Baloji co-founded the Lubumbashi Biennale, which led to the formation of the Picha Art Centre whose mission is to support emerging Congolese artists. He foresees that his collaboration with Olafur Eliasson may also lead to creating an interdisciplinary studio for local Congolese artists.