Congo Trip Notes: Leaving Kinshasa

Posted in Uncategorized | December 10, 2009 | by cathyz | No Comments

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Leaving Kinshasa, I’m renewed in my conviction that artists are critical thinkers, provocateurs and primary thought leaders possessing the skills and rigor needed to create pathways for understanding and social change. I feel a purposeful connection to what Faustin and Virginie are doing that could not have been possible without my sharing, even briefly, their life in Kisangani.  I’m sobered by the challenges they face and worry about the artists and people I’ve come to know and have now left behind. At the same time, I see that even the smallest act of genuine interest can have profound impact. I understand Faustin’s art and work more profoundly. The structure, ideas, ambiance and context of his work is Congolese; the craft and imagination is the artist, Faustin.

It is also very clear to me that The Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium’s commitment to engage in this way is no small thing and it comes with responsibility. We must take the appropriate next steps to build on these trips.

Three weeks later…

In a quiet moment three weeks after my return from my visit with Faustin and Virginie, travel notes and financial reports complete, the rhythms of Kisangani waft through my senses.

The enfolding green of the forest which is embraced by two beautiful flowing rivers. The red clay of the earth that connects the people so intimately to their land. The people who are bound by community and whose daily lives are lived mostly in plain sight walking, riding bikes, and carrying food and other goods. The buildings, beautiful and sad in their detritus, oozing with a powerful sense of place a complex history and a precarious future yet to unfold.  I recall the many young artists I met, the urgency of their endeavors and the sincerity of their interactions with me.

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