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Congo Connecting

Carl De Keyzer and Astrid Huis

11.12.2021 - 26.02.2022

Between 2003 and 2009, Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer (Kortrijk 1958) visited Congo several times in search of traces that recall the period of Belgian colonization. In the exhibition 'Congo Connecting', photos from this series are shown at Pennings Foundation in Eindhoven. As one of the first photographers, De Keyzer visualized the effects of the arrival and departure of a colonizer. The images of daily life with traces of the past evoke an atmosphere of alienation.

What impact do these photos have today? The Netherlands also has a complex past of domination beyond its own borders. We now look at our colonial past in a different way and are more and more aware of all the consequences that this has had. The recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations left no one indifferent! How do we learn to deal with racism, discrimination, imbalanced power relations and misplaced sense of superiority?

Parallel to this exhibition, the story is told of 'Aunt José', who left for Congo in the 1950s to work as a missionary in health care. The perspective she had as a woman in the Netherlands at that time was getting married, quitting her job as a nurse and taking care of family and household. Did she consciously choose to become a nurse in Africa? Entering the Glorieux monastery in Eindhoven and working in a mission station offered her that opportunity. She specialized in maternity care and shared her knowledge and experience with the local population. Aunt José symbolizes the idealism of the individual in addition to the economic interest of the colonizer. 'Aunt José' is a project by Astrid Huis.

Curators: Stef van Bellingen (curator Arts Platform WARP Sint-Niklaas), Theo Derksen (photographer), Astrid Huis (photographer), Petra Cardinaal (director Pennings Foundation).

About Carl De Keyzer (Kortrijk, Belgium, 1958):

Carl De Keyzer studied photography at the Academy of Ghent. Since 1994 he has been a member of the photo collective Magnum. He traveled through the Soviet Union, the United States, Europe, Congo and North Korea and has a large number of photo books to his name.

In 2009-2010 he published the photo book Congo in two parts. One part contains photos he took between 2003 and 2009 of traces of the colonial past in Congo. The other part contains new prints of glass negatives from 1890 and 1908, from the archives of the Koninklijk Museum voor Midden Afrika (the Royal Museum for Central Africa) in Tervuren.

About Astrid Huis (1970):

Astrid Huis studied at the Fotoacademie in Eindhoven/Amsterdam. She specialized in portrait and documentary photography. Her photos were published in newspapers, magazines and TV programs. She is the initiator and curator of the project ‘Tante José’ (Aunt José). A publication will accompany the exhibition.

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