Interviews door Sinzo Aanza: #5 Chéri Benga

Sinzo Aanza is cocurator van de tentoonstelling ‘Een gesprek tussen collecties uit Kinshasa en Oostende’. Hij interviewde acht kunstenaars die leven en werken Kinshasa en wiens werk in langdurige bruikleen in Mu.ZEE aanwezig is. De gesprekken gaan voornamelijk (gedeeltelijk) door in het Lingala omdat dit de kunstenaars toelaat op een vrijere manier te spreken over hun werk. Voor de vertaling werkt Mu.ZEE samen met Universiteit Gent. De acht interviews zullen allemaal beschikbaar worden gemaakt via deze blog.

# 5: Chéri Benga

English:

00:06               My name is Chéri Benga, I’m a painter 00:10/
00:12               I’ve been in this profession a long time 00:15
00:16               It’s already been thirty-five years 00:20/
00:21               since I started doing this professionally 00:22/
00:23               I’m self-taught 00:25
00:26               The work that I make 00:27
00:27               isn’t something that I learned at school 00:28/
00:30               At school, I followed other subjects 00:34/
00:35               But to become a painter 00:36
00:37               I consulted the elders 00:39
00:40               in order to learn from them 00:41
00:42               how to make the paint solution  00:46
0046:               and how to develop the drawing. 00:51/
00:54               I learnt everything from the elders in 1977. 01:01/
01:02               I went to study with someone who was more experienced. 01:03
01:03               His name was … 01:05
01:05               … on his panel he wrote Publi-Kubama 01:10
01:10               the ‘Publi’ stands for publicity. 01:12
01:13               He was an advertiser 01:14/
01:15               who didn’t make drawings 01:16
01:16               but publicity. 01:17
01:17               Advertising murals, stamps 01:20
01:21               portraits and silkscreens. 01:25/
01:26               Since then, 01:27
01:27               I’ve been developing 01:32
01:33               my own art 01:34
01:35               Even when I reached the same level, … 01:38
01:39               I still continued to work with these artists 01:41
01:42               but I was talented 01:42
01:43               and the best draughtman in the workshop. 01:51/
01:54               I then learned 01:57
01:57               the techniques of advertising murals, 01:58
01:59               silkscreen printing 02:02
02:04               and how to make stamps. 02: 06 /
02:07               That’s why, after three years, 02:11
02:12               I was able to set up my own studio. 02:13
02:14               This was in… 1979. 02:19
02:20               I started my own studio in 1979. 02:23
02:23               Back then, we were called naive painters. 02:28
02:29               Street painters, so not real painters. 02: 36 /
02:37               But around that time,
Badibanga Nemwina, 02:40
02:40               an art critic, 02:41
02:42               convinced us, 02:44
02:44               the popular painters, 02:46
02:46               to have an art exhibition. 02:48
02:49               So that we’d be recognised 02:50
02:50               as painters. 02: 52/
02:52               The exhibition was a great success 02:56
02:57               and the value of our work 02:58
02:58               and of us, as painters, became clear. 03: 01/
03:02               Now even the academics recognise 03:07
03:07               us as visual artists 03:09
03:10               We are all visual artists 03:12
03:12               and recognised as masters. 03:17
03:18               As artists, we work without problems 03:19
03:19               We can now assert ourselves 03: 21/
03:23               We quietly practice our profession 03:26
03:27               and thanks to God 03:29
03:29               we continue, to this very day, 03:31
03:31               to participate in exhibitions abroad. 03: 33/
03:37               We make our work here 03:39
03:40               but our clients are often foreigners 03:44
03:44               as are the collectors. 03:46
03:47               Only the whites appreciate 03:48
03:48               the value of our paintings. 03: 50/
03:51               Locally, it’s more difficult. 03: 53/
03:53               In the beginning, we sold to local clients 04:01
04:01               but at very low prices. 04:04
04:05               The white clients 04:06
04:06               have really valorised our works. 4:08
04:09               We now sell them at higher prices, 04: 11/
04:12               to the extent that 04:13
04:13               Congolese paintings are bought up 04:20
04:21               and resold to whites. 04:23/
04:24               This is why there are almost no paintings left 04:27
04:27                in the houses around here. 04:29
04:30                  Intermediaries purchase them 04:36
04:36               to resell them to whites. 04:37/
04:38               This has helped to elevate our art. 04:41/
04:32               But we’ll sometimes  04:33
04:33               have problems 04:45
04:48               with certain customers. Some customers 04:52
04:55               will suggest working together. 04:57
04:57               But usually we have problems 04:58
04:58               with whites, and especially with collectors. 05:03
05:03               But we always solve these problems. 05:09
05:10               These are our biggest issues. 05:13/
05:14               We occasionally have problems with gallery owners in Europe 05:17
05:18               to whom we send paintings for sale. 05:19
05:20               The money transfer is sometimes a problem. 05:26
05:30               Yet this remains our profession. 05:32
05:32               We certainly can’t give up. 05:33
05:33               We must continue to practice 05:36
05:37               so as to guide and encourage our young people. 05:43
05:43               We must encourage the young people 05:47
05:47               to continue and make progress. 05:49/
05:50               There aren’t many of my colleagues left any more, 05:52
05:52               a lot have already died. 05:53
05:53               But there’s a handful still left. 05:55
05:55               We, the popular painters, 05:56/
05:56               have to persevere 05:58
05:58               so that young people will continue the profession 06:02
06:02               and so that popular art doesn’t disappear 06:06
06:06               and will continue to advance. 06:11
06:12               That’s what I had to say. 06:16

Publicatie ‘Words Matter’

Het Tropenmuseum in Rotterdam stelde op 28 juni 2018 de publicatie ‘Words Matter / Woorden doen ertoe’ voor. Het biedt een handleiding voor het taalgebruik door musea. Het Tropenmuseum ontwikkelde een woordenlijst met uitleg waarom bepaalde woorden gevoelig of discutabel zijn, met voorstellen hoe ermee om te gaan binnen de museumpraktijk. Het boek vormt een pleidooi voor meer inclusieve instituten en kan gezien worden als een ‘tool of empowerment’. Het is geen kant-en-klare lijst met ‘slechte’ of ‘goede’ woorden, maar het wil binnen de sector wel het bewustzijn rond de onderliggende betekenis van sommige woorden aanmoedigen. De makers nodigen lezers uit om aanvullingen te maken en in discussie te gaan.

Je kan de publicatie hier gratis bekijken en downloaden.