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Heart-to-Heart Conversation #1: Coyote, Picha & Enough Room for Space

Picha is an independent art initiative that seeks to promote artistic creation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It aims to further an artistic perspective on the endogenous reflection of the historical and social environment of Lubumbashi and the region.

Since its initial get-together in 2008, Picha’s initiatives has led “artistic activism, creative actions, accompaniment of artists, production and diffusion” in a vibrant arena such as Lubumbashi that, up until then, served mainly as a source for researchers and artists from elsewhere, in which the local practitioners found extreme difficulties to elaborate and diffuse their projects locally. In response to the need for a regional and global platform of exchange, every two years artists and professionals from Africa and all over the world gather at the Lubumbashi Biennale for exhibitions, interventions in public space, professional meetings, workshops and conferences. The Lubumbashi Biennale is a uniting point for young art practitioners in the DR Congo, originally with an emphasis on photographic image practices, that have established themselves in the reality of contemporary art today. It provides both a platform for artists and cultural actors, and a framework for international exchange and network diversification.

Picha strives to be a project incubator and laboratory. Fuelled by a sense of urgency, in 2015 Picha asked itself how local artists could benefit from the general interchange sparked by globalisation without giving in to a homogenisation of styles or viewpoints. It therefor developed an experimental tool to help guide artists both conceptually and methodologically in the creation of their artistic projects: Picha Atelier and Picha Lab. These ongoing projects started in 2017 and already supported 10 emerging artists from all over the country.

Picha is constituted by local artists and independent cultural producers: Sammy Baloji, Aimé Kalenda, Rosemary Tshawila, Alexandre Mulongo, Rosa Spaliviero, Gabriele Salmi, Georges Senga and Jean Katambayi.