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DSH - Ma class: Art and colonial archives - discussion around the film Lobi Kuna

dinsdag, 15 mei, 2018 - 13:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus


HARP is pleased to announce its next PhD masterclass: Matthias De Groof - Art and colonial archives, discussion around the film Lobi Kuna (2017), that will take place on May 15, 2018 at the VUB campus in Etterbeek (Brussels). Discussion with Matthias De Groof about his latest film Lobi Kuna (2017), followed by broader debate on the colonial archives and their appropriation in art practice, especially in relation to the new Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren. Participating PhD students contribute questions based on prior theoretical readings.

Research group HARP

Name(s) of the VUB organizer(s) Prof. dr. Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, drs. Sanne Sinnige

Name and affiliation of external member(s) Dr. Matthias De Groof, lecturer at University Antwerpen, and filmmaker

Academic field(s) in which the activity is situated

Art History, Postcolonial Studies, Film Studies, Literature Studies, History, Heritage and Archival Studies, Museum Studies

Relevance for the VUB PhD community

Relevant for PhD Candidates who are preparing a thesis within Postcolonial Studies, with a specific focus on the Belgian colonial past. Also relevant for students who are working on museum archives and collections, and questions that relate to objects acquired within a colonial framework. For history students working on Belgium’s colonial past and post-colonial historiography the screening is equally relevant. The fact that the masterclass deals with post-colonial artistic approaches, makes the session also relevant for students in literary and art history studies that are working on post-colonial artistic practices. On a larger level the masterclass relates to actual post-colonial debates that are not necessarily limited to the Belgian colonial history, and that are taking place in other former coloniser countries as well. These debates include questions of education.

Detailed format of the activity

The masterclass will focus on the artistic practice of appropriating and re-contextualizing of colonial archives. Our guest Dr. Matthias De Groof, lecturer at University Antwerpen and filmmaker, will discuss his latest film Lobi Kuna (2017) that deals with questions concerning the Royal Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren. The RMCA will re-open its doors in 2018 after a long and complicated renovation process, and as such this masterclass allows for discussion and reflection on the new museum, the procedure that it went through the past years, and the role that it should play in the future. After the screening of Lobi Kuna, Matthias De Groof will speak about the making of this film; the involvement in the collective filmmaking will be subsequently expanded onto the current debates around the new modes of display for the difficult colonial archives. At the end of the masterclass there is time for questions and debate with the participants.

Timing/planning of activity 15/05/18 13:00-16:00

Contact person  sanne.sinnige@vub.be
Contact info: katarzyna.ruchel-stockmans@vub.be

Target audience

The meeting is open to all researchers but is specifically aimed at PhD students working in the field of Postcolonial Studies, Museum, Heritage and Archival Studies, Memory Studies, Literary Studies, Art History and History.


Participants will gain insight in current approaches to colonial archives in the context of contemporary art practice. They will be able to analyze audiovisual material dealing with material archival objects and will be able to relate this artistic practice to larger art historical debates.


The masterclass will focus on artistic practice of appropriating and recontextualizing of colonial archives. Based on recent research and experimental film practice in the Museum of Central Africa in Tervuren, it will approach colonial artefacts gathered in the institution as fraught documents of history. The experience in collaborative work during the making of the film Lobi Kuna will be used as a point of departure in the reassessment of the colonial narratives present in the museum. The film’s plot also takes place within the walls of the museum, as it shows photographer Mekhar Kiyoso visiting the exhibition spaces for a shoot. Gradually Mekhar Kiyoso becomes unsettled as the views through his lens reveal the macabre museum as a mausoleum of his cultural heritage. As he’s being possessed by the artefacts, he remembers being alienated from them. Lobi Kuna (which in Lingala means 'the day after tomorrow' as well as 'the day before yesterday') tells the story of his appropriation of the past in order to project himself into a future. The involvement in the collective filmmaking will be subsequently expanded onto the current debates around the new modes of display for the difficult colonial archives.



Clifford, James. 2007. "Quai Branly in Process." October 120:3-23.

Hasian, Marouf. 2012. "Colonial Amnesias, Photographic Memories, and Demographic Biopolitics at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA)."Third World Quarterly 33 (3):475-493.

Jonsson, H. 2010. "Museums in Postcolonial Europe." Ethnic and Racial Studies 33 (7):1278-1279.

Muteba, Toma Luntumbue. 2015. "dossier: perspectives postcoloniales." l'art Meme65.

Rizvi, U. Z. 2011. "Museums in postcolonial Europe." International Journal of Heritage Studies 17 (5):517-520. doi: Doi 10.1080/13527258.2011.589201.

Seiderer, A. 2014. Une critique postcoloniale en acte. Les musées d'ethnographie contemporains sous le prisme des études postcoloniales. Tervuren: Musée royal de l'Afrique centrale.

Simpson, Moira G. 1996. Making representations : museums in the post-colonial era. London ; New York: Routledge.

Singh, Kavita. 2009. "Universal Museums: The View from Below." In Witnesses to History: a compendium of documents and writings on the return of cultural objects, edited by L.V. Prott, 123-129. Paris: UNESCO.

Thomas, Dominique, ed. 2012. museums in postcolonial europe. London and New York: Routledge.

Credits 1


Register by sending a mail to sanne.sinnige@vub.be or via online form here

We kindly ask you to register only once and only when you can actually participate. In case you have already registered but are not able to participate, please be so kind as to notify us by sending an e-mail tosanne.sinnige@vub.be so we can offer your place to one of your PhD colleagues on the waiting list.

Please be aware of the fact that the cancellation and no-show policy of VUB applies. Cancellation of your participation is only allowed up to 48 hours before the start of the course. Otherwise, the policy as described on the doctoral school website will be followed.

Registration Rules: http://www.vub.ac.be/phd/english/workshopsENG.html#RegisRules
No Show Policy: https://my.vub.ac.be/en/phd/regulations-forms