Coucou Crumble, 2019
“When we think apocalypse, we tend to think of the future. Superstates control world politics. Technology imperialises everyday life. Citizens become complicit in their own surveillance. Catastrophe becomes quotidian. For Maurice Mbikayi, the stuff of Western dystopian fiction is, in fact, an African reality. In Mbikayi’s DRC, colonialism and its afterlives have left the country largely in a state of crisis — politically, economically, and socially. Corruption is set as policy. Resources continue to be appropriated for Western profit. At the same time the world obsesses over cryptocurrency mining, it becomes all the more dependent on African mining industries – such as gold and cobalt – to engineer and power computers and smartphones.
Maurice Mbikayi asks, what happens when everything falls apart? What happens if the Internet crashes, or mobile money flops? Mbikayi incorporates the rubble into his work, resulting in sculptures, photographs, and performances that link the materials back to their political contexts.
Several sculptures seem to haunt the gallery space, memorials to ongoing histories of labour exploitation. Pregnant women, their baskets full of baby clothes, are surrounded by guns, an allegory for the many ways in which violence at the hands of the West has thwarted the continent’s attempts to birth its renaissance. “