Johari – Brass Band Sammy Baloji

Johari - Brass Band
Sammy Baloji
october 20th 2020 – January 17, 2021
Grand Palais,
in front of the Clemenceau staircase
Wished and announced by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron to
Ouagadougou in 2017 and then launched in Lagos in 2018, the Africa 2020 Season (initially scheduled from June to December 2020) will invite visitors in France from early December 2020 to mid-July 2021 to look at and understand the world from an African perspective through exhibitions and events throughout the country. The Rmn - Grand Palais is associated with this event by inviting the artist Sammy Baloji to design two exceptional sculptures for the pedestals of the facade of the Grand Palais, on the Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau side.
These two large 3-metre high sculptures, inspired by large brass instruments, are oversized replicas of the instruments abandoned in the United States in the 19th century, when the French expeditionary force was defeated. They were then recovered by the slaves to create the Brass Band. Scarified by the artist as a direct echo of the Congolese identity practices eradicated by the colonial presence, the brass instruments are integrated into metal diorama structures in the form of dioramas taking the form of Katanga minerals (in Swahili Joharis means crystals) and echo the architecture of the Grand Palais. Two imposing stone pedestals decorating the facade of the Grand Palais will welcome them, depositories of the triumphal symbol of Africa’s reappropriation of its own history.
Sammy Baloji was born in 1978 in Lubumbashi, Congo and has been living between Lubumbashi and Brussels since 2006. He never stops exploring the memory and history of his country of origin. His work is an ongoing research on the cultural, architectural and industrial heritage of the Katanga region, as well as a questioning of the impact of Belgian colonisation. His critical view of contemporary societies is a warning about how cultural clichés continue to shape collective memories and thus allow social and political power games to continue to dictate human behaviour.
Already exhibited in New York (Museum for African Art, 2009), Washington (Smithsonian Museum, 2010), London (Tate Modern, 2011), Venice (Biennale 2015) and Kassel (Documenta 2017), a former resident of the Villa Medicis and presented in December in the Salle Foch des Beaux-Arts in Paris as part of the Festival d’Automne (for which he also designed the poster), Sammy Baloji’s work has joined the largest French and international collections. His residency from 2008 to 2010 at the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren enabled him to work on the collections of this museum commissioned in 1897 by Leopold II to Charles Girault, the architect of the Grand Palais.
Sammy Baloji / Photo © Sophie Nuytten
15 october 2020
The two exceptional sculptures, on display at the Grand Palais until its closure in January 2021, which refer to the 1900 Universal Exhibition, will return for its reopening to celebrate the inaugural exhibition of the restored Grand Palais.
Johari - Brass Band is a strong and committed work, a link between today’s Grand Palais and the restored Grand Palais, and fits perfectly with the new artistic vision of the Rmn - Grand Palais set up by Chris Dercon, its president.
The Beaux-Arts de Paris school presents Sammy Baloji’s first solo exhibition from December 3, 2020 to January 17, 2021.
Sammy Baloji is represented by the Imane Farès Gallery.
Sammy Baloji biography
curator : Chris Dercon, President of the Rmn - Grand Palais
production: Estelle Lecaille, Twenty Nine Studio, Bruxelles
design & production : Ismaël Bennani & Orfée Grandhomme, Bruxelles
materialisation & Fabrication : Jean-Daniel Bourgeois, Bruxelles - Dinanderie Clabots, Dinant
Monday 7 December at 6.30 pm
Auditorium of the Grand Palais
Public sculptures: why and for whom?
Roundtable meeting moderated by Chris Dercon, President of the Rmn-Grand Palais with Sammy Baloji, visual artist, Emmanuel Kasarhérou, Chief Curator of Heritage, President of the Quai Branly Museum and Dominique Taffin, General Curator of Heritage, Director of the Foundation for the Memory of Slavery

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