Interviews door Sinzo Aanza #7: Francis Mampuya

Tentoonstellingszicht ‘Een gesprek tussen collecties uit Kinshasa en Oostende’ (episode 2): Sven Augustijnen & Francis Mampuya (c) Kristien Daem

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.

# 7: Francis Mampuya


0:00-0:03        I’m Francis Mampuya.
0:09-0:10        My second name is Nkita
0:10-0:12        But my professional name is Francis Mampuya.
0:17-0:21        I primarily want to talk about art,
0:22-0:25        but more specifically here in Kinshasa, in Congo.
0:26-0:29        Art is a difficult profession.
0:30-0:35        Life, and the situation in the country,
0:36-0:38        don’t make it easy
0:38-0:40        to keep making art
0:40-0:43        in this land.
0:45-0:49        It requires a great deal of sacrifice.
0:50-0:52        Because, even here,
0:54-0:56        for the work we deliver,
0:56-0:59        it’s difficult to find buyers
1:00-1:03        and there are no art galleries.
1:05-1:09        Often, the only people who can help us
1:09-1:11        are foreign partners.
1:13-1:14        It’s as if this profession
1:14-1:16        is only of interest to foreigners.
1:18-1:20        Here, the knowledge of art is
1:20-1:21        very limited.
1:23-1:30        Very few people are looking for artworks
1:30-1:31        to hang in their homes.
1:31-1:34        Art is not a preoccupation here
1:34-1:36        amongst the Congolese.
1:37-1:39        This is why
1:40-1:42        I sometimes call what we do
1:42-1:45        a suicidal profession.
1:46-1:52        We’re devoted to art
1:52-1:55        otherwise it would be impossible to continue in Congo.
1:56-1:59        This life and this situation are difficult.
1:59-2:01        On the material and economic front,
2:02-2:04        there are many problems.
2:04-2:07        If we, as artists, are devoted to art
2:08-2:10        then it’s because we were born into it.
2:10-2:14        So it’s in our blood.
2:15-2:16        Something in our blood.
2:17-2:20        I come from a family of artists.
2:21-2:36        By this I mean
2:37-2:40        that some of my ancestors
2:41-2:42        were sculptors
2:42-2:46        or architects.
2:48-2:49        Like my grandfather, for example.
2:50-2:52        He was a member of the Executive Board
2:52-2:55        of the superintendents of Notre-Dame de Kinshasa
2:56-3:02        and Saint-Paul in the municipality of Kinshasa.
3:04-3:08        I inherited these traits from my uncles.
3:09-3:10        They were all artists.
3:11-3:15        My entire family was predestined for art.
3:19-3:21        As far as the work is concerned, what we mainly lack
3:21-3:24        are galleries.
3:24-3:27        And people who can buy art.
3:29-3:32        These days you might make art
3:32-3:34        but you can’t find anyone who can buy it.
3:35-3:37        Finding a buyer is a matter of luck.
3:38-3:41        Those who have an eye for it
3:41-3:42        come from abroad.
3:43-3:45        Friends who have the opportunity to come here,
3:45-3:48        or diplomats, or someone on a mission.
3:48-3:51        They have the means to help us.
3:52-3:58        The works we offer for sale
3:58-4:04        raise just enough money to survive.
4:05-4:09        It’s not like artists from elsewhere
4:10-4:17        who are given grants.
4:18-4:19        It’s a bit different.
4:22-4:24        That’s why you see that for art
4:25-4:27        there are limits here today.
4:28-4:33        But we try to
4:34-4:35        make progress on many fronts.
4:36-4:37        That’s why there are still creations.
4:37-4:38        We’re not giving up.
4:38-4:40        Sometimes we also create things
4:40-4:44        that allow the whole world to
4:44-4:46        see that Congolese artists are also
4:47-4:49        creating valuable works.
4:50-4:52        Anywhere in the world you can
4:52-4:53        see popular artists.
4:53-4:56        Or colleagues who
4:56-4:57        realise something.
5:00-5:02        It’s therefore a great honour.
5:03-5:05        But the artists themselves,
5:05-5:07        they cannot make a living.
5:07-5:10        There’s nothing in it for them.
5:10-5:13        As far as the galleries are concerned, it’s often the case
5:14-5:24        that the gallery owner is more important.
5:23-5:28        You see that everywhere.
5:29-5:30        We find that if you
5:30-5:33        sell a work of art,
5:33-5:36        you might receive 200 or 100 dollars.
5:36-5:37        But once the piece ends up in Europe,
5:37-5:40        then the gallery owners can
5:40-5:47        set their own price.
5:48-5:52        As a result, we earn almost nothing ourselves.
5:55-5:59        I could say that you can’t put a price on art.
6:00-6:04        But the artist must also benefit
6:04-6:06        from his work, from his rights.
6:07-6:10        Copyright, publication rights and so on.
6:11-6:16        We do not have any real sources of income.
6:17-6:20        We have no one who takes care of copyright,
6:22-6:30        nor a place where the artist’s fees
6:30-6:31        from his rights and works
6:31-6:33        can be collected.
6:34-6:37        This is down to our own lack of organisation.
6:38-6:39        It’s a bit of that.
6:41-6:43        When I see art
6:43-6:46        in books
6:46-6:47        it gives me pleasure.
6:47-6:50        When I see art in catalogues
6:50-6:53        then it’s encouraging.
6:55-6:57        In the sense that the European galleries
6:57-6:58        exhibit your works.
6:58-6:59        That’s very good.
7:02-7:04        There’s always a complementarity
7:05-7:07        for us, for African artists.
7:11-7:13        We’re not opposed to the
7:13-7:15        complementarity with gallery owners.
7:16-7:18        But we must also benefit
7:18-7:20        from our own creations.
7:22-7:23        That’s pretty much the problem.