Venice - Kinshasa. Invisible Towns
The article deals with the institution of the exhibition and, quite possibly first and foremost, with the manner of 'displaying' (representation), characteristic for this institution as well as reception and comprehension, closely associated with it, whose range transcends far beyond museum walls. Similarly to the map, the museum constitutes a point of departure for further reflections about perception (the gaze). The opening part of the text is an attempted analysis of the phenomenon of Venice, a city in which the map and its characteristic manner of comprehending reality are defeated in a confrontation with an 'alien' town. Venice resists all attempts at being thrust into a framework, and the image of the town is incapable of concealing the city itself, thus demonstrating the artificiality and imperfection of a conception in which the introduction of order consists of imposing an external structure upon reality, and representations become more important than the objects themselves. The next part of the study - remarks about museum strategies and the essence of exhibitions - is a preface to the most important fragment about an exhibition (Kinshasa. The Imaginary City) featured in the Belgian pavilion at the Ninth Venice Architecture Biennale. The display - the work of anthropologist Filip De Boeck, photographer Marie-Françoise Plissart and curator Koen Van Synghel - shows an image of Kinshasa without actually presenting its buildings, but focusing primarily on the people (in this city, De Boeck claims, bodies comprise the main construction material of the architecture). The exhibition is an anthropological analysis of the social changes which have taken place in the capital of the former Belgian colony in the course of the last fifty years. The show constitutes a complicated entity, in which particular components (the book by De Boeck, the photographs by Plissard, films and interviews) cooperate in order to show a highly unusual portrait of a city.
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