LES MOUCHOIRS DE KABILA

"Large parts of Goma were covered with lava after the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in January 2002. Today children live in the ruins on the lava. They sell paper handkerchiefs to grown-ups in the city, and lava rocks to construction builders. Meanwhile, these children are in the process of building their own city on top of the old one, a city complete with radios and TVs, white jeeps and blue helmets, presidents and vice-presidents, commercials and hate campaigns, cemeteries and election fever. The children seem to almost emerge from the lava, revealing the world underneath the rubble." (http://www.balthasar.be) The installation ’Les Mouchoirs de Kabila’ begins where ’Begin Began Begun’ ends: with images of refugee children in Goma, playing amongst the lava fragments which disrupted the city. From found material they build up a miniature city. Old, used phone cards suddenly turn into TV-screens; a sardine tin is converted into a living room; a piece of metal is bent to become a wheelchair. Cities rise and fall at each shower of rain. Everything is lava, lava is everything: arms, building bricks, diamonds. The ground underneath their petrified feet, the air for their asthmatic lungs, the cause of their illness, a source of income. In order to make money, the children sort the pieces of lava, which is subsequently processed as cement, or they sell paper handkerchiefs. The installation uses Super-8 images, videos and pictures to offer glimpses of that “in-between space”, as an image of a society in which the surreal and the imaginary increasingly merge, and where the invisible might even have pushed aside the visible: the République Démocratique du Congo, RDC or “Rdécès” – republic of the dead, deceased republic – as the Congolese call it.