Power 100

Most influential people in 2023 in the contemporary artworld


Sammy Baloji

Artist - Cofounder of the Lubumbashi Biennale

11 in 2023

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Photo: Nick Harvey

“Copper – it’s a bridge between the precolonial, colonial and the postcolonial”, Baloji says in a short video documenting a visit to his studio in Brussels, where he speaks of the industrial extraction that has been his subject over the last decade. His patient focus has paid off, with his investigations into mineral exploitation this year shown at Sharjah Biennial (in an archival installation featuring evidence of the Cold War competition between the Soviet Union and the United States to gain access to Belgian Congo uranium) and the Venice Architecture Biennale (where he received a special mention for his wide-ranging exploration of Belgian colonialism in Congo and beyond, as well as for a vast sculptural work of industrial debris made in collaboration with architect Gloria Cabral and art historian Cécile Fromont). For his solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Mainz he invited 12 artists to produce a collaborative history of mining in his home Katanga region. Many of these are past participants in the Lubumbashi Biennale, cofounded by the artist in 2008 and returning in its eighth edition next year.

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