The Opening

Anna Ekman and Cecilia Järdemar, Freddy Tsimba

15/06 - 06/10 2019

The project les archives suédoises was initiated by the artists Anna Ekman and Cecilia Järdemar around an archive of glass negatives from Swedish missions in what was the Belgian Congo 1890 – 1930. Together with the Congolese sculptor Freddy Tsimba they investigate what alternative readings of history can take shape when new artworks are created using the archive as a starting point.

Ekman and Järdemar have been allowed to borrow glass negatives from the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden as well as descendants of missionaries. These are images that in part have not been archived or developed before, and as such they are an important but forgotten piece of both Swedish and Congolese history. The missionaries were also part of a process whereby they documented the existing culture where they settled – before it was changed or destroyed as part of the Christening of that society.

How do we confront this type of imagery today, from a Swedish perspective and from a Congolese one? How can historical pictures find a new context and new interpretations, outside of the unequal power structures that were in place at the time they were taken?

The exhibition is the last step in a process that has included journeys to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to return photos and to work together with Tsimba in preparation for a series of exhibitions in Sweden and the DRC, the latest one at Musée D’Art Contemporain in Kinshasa. During the exhibition opening in Kalmar a book of the project will be presented in collaboration with Sailor Press.

Photo: Monument to the porters of Kingoyi, Kingoyi, Lower Congo, 2016, Anna Ekman and Cecilia Järdemar


The Opening is part of the interregional contemporary art project NYA SMÅLAND.