Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc

In the engine house of a former pin factory in Leeds, French artist Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc presents his latest film work, which, with the voices of local children, tells stories old and new of the exploitation of metal-rich African subsoils by foreign powers.

Abonnenc’s new work confronts the contemporary and historic exploitation of copper in the Katanga region of Congo, a region that has been repeatedly ravaged since its colonization by Belgian King Leopold II in the 19th Century. Leopold looted small copper crosses, originally forms of currency made by a sect known as the ‘copper eaters’, that were shipped to Europe for industrial use. As a way of underlining the violence of the colonial act and its continuing contemporary enactment in the post-industrial context, Abonnenc has subjected several copper crosses, bought from private collectors to a process of recasting, with the help of a local foundry.

The resulting film is the first part of a wider body of work that takes Jacopetti and Prosperi’s notorious 1960 film Africa Addio as a starting point to discuss the imperial nostalgia embodied by this film and by particular instances of modern art.

Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc (born French Guiana, lives and works in Paris) uses drawings, installations, photographs, interviews and archives, to counter collective amnesia and erasure of experiences and traumas. In 2011 he was commissioned by Gasworks to produce Foreword to Guns for Banta, which uses the films of pioneering film-maker Sarah Maldoror as a catalyst to ask whether the spirit of liberation movements of 60's Africa can be reactivated. His installation and performance work For Julius Eastman was presented at the Palais de Tokyo as part of La Triennale 2012: Intense Proximity.
Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc


Event Title: Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc
Postcode: Pavilion, Tower Works, Globe Road, Leeds LS11 5QG
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