Skip to content

An (un)manageable world

An (un)manageable world was a research project in which La Fleur worked closely with the artist duo Schellhamer/Mukenge.

Lydia Schellhamer and Christ Mukenge studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa, which set a conservative training framework, which they quickly broke through with their practices. It is essential to their work that, like the transnational group La Fleur, they work between the European and African continents and thus deal with different audiences and their diverse realities of life. They have been designing La Fleur's equipment since 2017, but until now, the group had never analysed their practices analytically. Her method is “partagism,” painting together on a picture. They have two methods for doing this, either they first make conceptual agreements or they start completely without verbal agreements. The artists then react exclusively visually to the other's paintings. Their work is characterized by the interplay between European and African influences, thus appealing to different audiences and lifestyles. In their artistic practice, they have discovered that embedding contemporary images and stories in fantastic and speculative scenes often highlights the portrayal of the other. It is a process of exoticization, the construction of meanings and the production of realities.
The starting point for the collaboration was the story “Madame Sourdis” by Émile Zola. It sheds light on the hidden co-authorship of paintings by a pair of artists, whose impact over time has a devastating effect on their relationship. In parallel, we explored the decadent novel “Against the Grain” by Karl-Joris Huysmans, which deals with the death of the protagonist in retreat of dandysm. In this context, we analyse European dandyism in comparison with Congolese/Ivorian Sapeur, from historical roots to the facets of the 21st century, between narcissism and self-empowerment against the backdrop of co-authorship in the context of contemporary art: Our process is an interwoven network of references and translations, a transition from one medium to another. The stories of Zola and Huysmans from the 19th century serve as a source for social analyses in the 21st century.

Photo: Andreas Körner