Cette Maison N’est Pas À Vendre Et À Vendre
From April 20 to May 26, 2017, The Market Photo Workshop and the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA), with the support of Pro Helvetia Johannesburg and the Swiss Agency for Development (SDC) will present Cette Maison N’est Pas À Vendre Et À Vendre (This House is not for Sale and for Sale), by African artist Georges Senga Assani.
The exhibition is an exploration of the position of houses and homes caught in situations of conflicted inheritance. The project began in the commune of Katuba, the neighbourhood in which Assani grew up, after his family was caught in the complexity of value, heritage and memory that houses and homes hold, and that come to the fore with considerations of selling. He explains:
“People have two kinds of opinions, some of them agree with selling their houses and some of them disagree. Concerning our family home, it was only a short period of time when it was happening, a few family men wanted to sell the house, while the others did not want that at all. The part of the family who were against the sale put great writing with oil paint on the house: ‘this house is not for sale’. This message would be a warning for anyone who would like to interact to buy the house. This was the moment when I started to ask myself, why do people need to write this on their houses publicly? Is it about respect for the memory of the person who leaves you this house as heritage?”
Cette maison n’est pas à vendre et à vendre moves between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil (2015-2016), with images that alternately capture the exterior facades of houses and the intimate interiors of homes. In the photographs taken in the DRC the objects inside of the houses show the existence of a life, and tell the stories of the different periods of the houses. The images of objects on the exterior were photographed in Brazil in the coastal town of Praia Grande, where houses are disappearing due to the new construction of high-rise buildings. Assani explains that in Praia Grande “the houses that are for sale have memory and history but at the same time they are on view for sale; in that way they are losing their history and memory. I decided to photograph objects in the areas of those houses to reconstitute the history and the memory of the houses. The objects and the houses are on view for people, but the objects are for free and the houses are for sale.”
Senga Assani’s work concerns identity, heritage, and history. For the artist, these issues are connected to the idea of memory – the memory of who we are, what we have, and where we come from. This project is supported by an ANT Funding Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Georges Senga Assani, born in 1983 in Lubumbashi, DRC is a photographer who was discovered during the first edition of the Picha Biennale de Lubumbashi in 2008, by Marie-Françoise Plissart and Sammy Baloji. In 2011 he joined a series of master classes organised by the GoetheInstitut in Johannesburg, South Africa; in Lubumbashi, DRC (2012); and in Lagos, Nigeria (2013).
In 2009 the artist’s project Footprint was presented at the second Lubumbashi Biennale curated by Simon Njami, and his third and fourth series of photographs titled A Life After Death and Kadogos was presented in 2013 at Rencontres Picha Biennale de Lubumbashi. Senga Assani received a research grant from Pro Helvetia in 2014 for his photo project Transit. In 2015 he was a fellow at Wiels Contemporary Art Centre in Forest, Belgium, as well as part of the project African Odyssey at the arts centre BRASS. That same year, he presented his work at the Bamako Biennale, where he was awarded the Léon l’African prize by Royal Air Maroc. Senga Assani was in residence at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart in September 2015 and February 2017.
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