Decolonization cannot be limited to questions or acts of repatriation, restitution, reparation. While each of these processes are essential in healing the wounds and addressing the historical injustices enacted by colonization, decolonization requires reckoning with how the west—its places, its ideas, its cultures, its selves—remains a colonial construct.

Appropriations is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and CIVA Brussels within the context of its exhibition “Style Congo: Heritage & Heresy.”

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The frenzy to amass these precious resources unleashed a regime of forced labor, violence, and unchecked atrocities for Congolese people. These same two and a half decades of contact with the Congo Free State remade Belgium—what was then a new, small, and neutral country, squeezed and exposed on the map of Europe—into a global powerhouse, vitalized by an economic boom, architectural burst, and imperial surge.
Françoise Vergès
In the many forms it took throughout 2020, the movement challenging statues is irreversible and that is why it is under attack. It is part of the global challenge to a modernity that shaped the world according to racial and sexist criteria that destroyed cultures, silenced voices, erased knowledge, and pillaged to fill its museums and palaces.
Germane Barnes
Anti-colonial discourse has presented an opportunity to better understand the legacy of Africa as it pertains to the architected environment. One such area is that of classical architecture and the legacies of North Africa.
Rolando Vázquez and Sammy Baloji
A lot of communities in Brussels don’t have Belgian roots, but they are living in the city, and make the city what it is. KANAL asked my studio and I to create an exhibition that could bring visibility to the Congolese community, in relation to the colonial history that brings these two communities together: the Belgians and Congolese.
The future will tell us whether Belgium’s public space can still become the site for reconciliation with the country’s colonial past, or whether the report will remain as a paper, decolonial utopia.
Though it is becoming increasingly clear that Africa had many long, rich, and diverse traditions of writing from ancient times to the present that have been largely unacknowledged, most people in Sub-Saharan Africa did not adopt phonetic writing systems until the late nineteenth century. Without easy access to self-produced written documents recording African history, historians have relied on documents written by Arab and European visitors with their attendant problems.
Arguing that the pioneering days were over and time had come to guarantee a return on investment, Leplae made a case for the colonizer’s house as the crucial instrument for a successful mise en valeur (exploitation) of the colonized territory of the Belgian Congo. “To colonize the Congo,” Leplae wrote, “it is necessary to make it inhabitable.”
Nick Axel, Sammy Baloji, Silvia Franceschini, Nikolaus Hirsch, and Estelle Lecaille
Appropriations is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and CIVA within the context of its exhibition “Style Congo: Heritage & Heresy,” featuring contributions by Germane Barnes, Sandrine Colard, Johan Lagae and Paoletta Holst, I.I.I. Osayimwese, Debora Silverman, Rolando Vázquez and Sammy Baloji, and Françoise Verges.
Architecture, Modernism, Colonialism & Imperialism
Africa, Decolonization, Postcolonialism, Postcolonial Theory

Appropriations is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and CIVA Brussels within the context of its exhibition “Style Congo: Heritage & Heresy.”


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