Sammy Baloji

The Long Hand

Kunst in de Stad proudly presents a new commission by Sammy Baloji. Invited to create a permanent work for Antwerp’s public space, the artist was immediately drawn to the river, acknowledging it as the gateway between ‘here’ and ‘there’, the city and the world, but also, more poignantly, between Belgium and Baloji’s native Congo.

The bronze sculpture takes its shape from the ‘lukasa’, a cultural device used in the Luba culture of Southern Congo. Lukasa are memory boards and a vital part of the oral tradition storytelling of the Luba people. Traditionally, they are made out of wood and ornately embellished with abstract carvings and inlayed with stones, shells or pieces of metal. The lukasa is used in ceremonies where Luba political history and mythology is orally transmitted by a so-called “man of memory” who would hold the lukasa in one hand, and trace the lines and encrusted jewels with the other, using them as nodes of information.

Sammy Baloji’s work introduces the act of remembering and (hi)story telling into our shared public space. But is not all (monumental) public art at the service of memory and commemoration? In line with the ambiguous nature of traditional lukasa, Baloji’s contemporary reinterpretation holds no fixed narrative. It is an invitation to convene and converse, to recall, to remember, and to remember differently.

Location: Waterfront, Scheldekaai Zuid – Cockerillkaai (next to the Zuidersluis), 2000 Antwerp

Artists: Sammy Baloji

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