27 May 17:00
Sammy Baloji's sculptures Johari Brass Band (2020) are installed on the stage of the main concert hall De Blauwe Zaal until June 2022. The works are inspired by the sousaphone and the French horn, instruments that were left behind in the 19th century by the French army during their exodus from the colonial settlement Louisiana in the modern-day United States. The instruments were recovered by ex-slaves, who formed brass bands with them and started a new musical tradition from which jazz would also stem. Scars on the instruments refer to the traditional Congolese skin tattoos, an identity practice that was suppressed during the colonisation. ‘Johari’ means 'crystals’ in Swahili, and the metal structures in which the instruments are placed have the contours of minerals that are mined in Katanga. On the stage of the concert hall, they are not only silent witnesses to the lack of recognition for African influences in music history but also remind us that the dehumanising practice of slave trade was ongoing during the time that classical music was being made in Europe.
Note: the work by Sammy Baloji can be visited on Thursday May 26th at 14h-21h and on Friday at 12h-18h. The other works that are part of the On Sculpture can be seen whenever the building is open.