237.130 Week 4 TASK 4C – Visual Text Analysis

Made in 2006, in the Republic of Congo, by Sammy Baloji. It is a C Print photograph, originally displayed on a large scale. Sammy Baloji was born in Lubumbashi in Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1978. This work depicts a subject of slavery in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), that was once exploted by Belgian colonists for its wealth of mineable substances, giving birth to large mining communities in Baloji’s district, Katanga. The image shows this disjointed relationship between the subjects (the landscape and the person), as well as the how the two, along with Baloji, are integrally linked. That idea is shown well through the mix of medias, it’s almost a collage work with the figure placed in the centre, contrasting the high-definition image behind him or present-day Katanga. It feels like a documentary image, but the difference in colouring and quality give away that this is a constructed image, which further proves the images purpose.

The image comprises of two separate backgrounds, or realities, with a collaged figure in the foreground. The figure is isolated to the right image, in his own space. Both images contain perspectives into the background. This image is part of a series called ‘Memoire’, by Sammy Baloji, which depict similar modern backgrounds with overlaid images of former slaves. The viewers eyes are immediately drawn to the figure in this image, due to the contrast between the colour and black and white, as well as his striking form. He looms over the foreground and commands attention. The image is taken from eye level. The components seem disconnected, with a second perspective off to the left of the image, seemingly unrelated but still adding to the image. Although the figure is clearly collaged, it still looks unified and powerful. The overall relationship between the components is harmonious. It takes the stance of an observer of history, but at the same time, as being apart of that history, a view point unique to someone of Congolese heritage. Had it been made by an outsider it would lose this effect. That is the knowledge Baloji deploys. I think this fact also empowers the subject within the photograph; it suggests he is not being looked down on but admired by someone with a connection to him and his situation.

 

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