Matthias De Groof, 2018, 35min
In 1910, the Royal Museum for Central Africa – a showcase for King Léopold II's collection of artifacts and natural specimens pillaged from Congo Free State – was given permanent home in a lavish, newly-built neoclassical palace. Now, more than a century later, the museum is getting a renovation. As its iconic wildlife dioramas are being destroyed and removed, filmmaker Matthias De Groof takes up his camera, offering a mesmerizing portrait that bears witness to the shattering of colonial imagery, and leaves one to ponder what will take its place?
This Magnificent Cake!
Emma De Swaef and James Roels, 2019, 44min
In the late 19th century, desperate to compete with other European powers, King Léopold II declared, “I do not want to miss getting us a slice of this magnificent African cake!” Taking Léopold II's claim as its starting point, De Swaef and Roels' violent and disturbing work of stop-motion animation unfurls as a series of vignettes of early Belgian transplants to Congo. From the dark and brutal stories of these characters emerges the bitter milieu of Belgium-occupied Congo, and a surreal unraveling into the intoxicated, nightmarish crevices of the colonial mind-set.
Congo in Harlem is made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.