Lumene : Privatisation
In this documentary essay, Congolese artist David Shongo addresses the problems of knowledge production and asks the important question of how it was influenced permanently and systematically by colonialist power. Analysing historical photographs, he exposes the perfidious mechanisms of colonial historiography and contrasts them with conversations with traditional scholars. They represent an exploited culture confronted not only with the theft of economic goods. It was also robbed – in a historical dimension, too – of self-perception and self-determination.
The starting point of his analysis is the examination of the photo archive of the German ethnographer and anthropologist Hans Himmelheber at the Museum Rietberg in Zürich. But Shongo’s critique of colonial historical fictions – poetic and meticulously precise at the same time – goes far beyond this. Combining specially produced and expressive images of present-day Congo with staged scenes, an offscreen commentary and documentary recordings, he manages to penetrate extremely complex contexts. A film essay that denounces the “privatisation of memory” – and contributes a long overdue, extremely important political and aesthetic position to the virulent restitution debate.