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The Tower. A Concrete Utopia

Traditionally, urban planning and architecture carry a form of utopian optimism for a livable city with them. Yet, all too often infrastructural dreams turn into nightmares and the skyward ideals of a towered cityscape turns into the symbolism of degraded holes. In a narrative that takes off from an architectural apprentice and the cast-in-concrete spirits that he called, photographer Sammy Baloji and anthropologist Filip de Boeck weave photos and text into a construction of hopes, failures, and social complexities nested into the material existence of postcolonial Kinshasa.

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Filip De Boeck

University of Leuven

Professor Filip De Boeck is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa at the Institute for Anthropological research in Africa at the University of Leuven. Since 1987 he has conducted extensive field research in both rural and urban communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to his academic work, he also collaborated with artists such as photographer Sammy Baloji. Their collaborative work was featured in the Louisiana Art Museum’s group show Africa: Architecture, Culture and Identity in 2015, and in Urban Now. City Life in Congo, a major exhibition that went on show at the WIELS contemporary art centre in Brussels, in May 2016, and will be travelling to New York, Lisbon and Toronto in the coming months. Together, Filip De Boeck and Sammy Baloji also authored Suturing the City. Living Together in Congo' Urban Worlds (2016, London: Autograph).