Tales of Us

Introducing Congo Tales to Europe: the Barberini Exhibition

After over four years of development, of planning, travelling, learning and growing, after building trust and collecting experiences and stories within the community of Mbomo, it finally happened. A process that took our team deep into the rich expanse of the Odzala-Kokoua park had finally unfolded itself to become a little library of tales from the Republic of Congo. On the 30thof June 2018, we proudly opened our Congo Tales Exhibition in the Museum Barberini in Postdam Germany.

The art of storytelling in Congo Tales exhibition

To finally have the opportunity to show the results of these last few years of incredible work to an international audience was a very exciting thing for everyone involved. But the process of celebrating the results of this work publicly had already commenced in May where we had our world premiere in the charming garden of the VWELA cultural center Brazzaville/Congo.

 

It was very important to us to begin our celebrations with the people who this project celebrates. Our way to our European exhibition was paved by first showing this work to the people who had truly made it possible. On the 22ndof May, music filled the night and Brazzaville celebrated Congo Tales. The next stop was the one we were all working towards- the moment to bring back the photos, the stories and the film to the community we had worked with for so long!

 

The celebrations took place over three days, with a program for the children, a formal opening with the town’s officials and a music filled dance off with all of the people involved, their families, friends and curious neighbors. The stories were told by the teachers of the Sanza Mobimba school as well as by each of the protagonists, explaining proudly to their family members how the pictures came together and who their characters represented. We enjoyed food together and danced into the late hours of the night to the music of a traditional TamTam band who came from the neighboring town of Olleme.

 

Upon our return to Berlin, the preparations for the European premiere in the Barberini Museum were in full swing. We had only one month to go and the book to print, pictures to hang as well as invitations to send out. A lot of work needed to be done but what a pleasure it was to see it all coming together on the 29thfor our VIP reception. It was a day as hot as we were used to in Congo although everything else was different.

Museum Barberini Congo Basin exhibition

We opened the day with a welcome speech from the museum director, Mrs. Ortrud, who was followed by the cultural attaché for the Congolese embassy, Mr Georges Samba. Mr Samba stressed the importance of shining a light on this piece of natural heritage and celebrated the strong bond between Germany and the Republic of Congo. Stefanie Plattner and Eva Vonk, the initiators and producers of this project gave the visitors a heartfelt overview of the process and its mission. Kovo Nsonde ended with a celebratory speech about the stories that he had heard in his childhood, then in the village of Mbomo, sharing his pride that they were now born into the wider world.

The exhibition was well visited and the interactive app, developed by Micro Movie, was a great asset to enhance the visitor’s experience. Most of the creators of the project were there, including our local producer, main character in the movie and a prominent interpreter in some of the exhibited pictures, Bosko Ekany. This offered an amazing opportunity to experience the work from the beautifully designed spaces of the Barberini as well as through the personal stories and anecdotes from those who contributed so instrumentally to the result.

 

We are so happy to welcome this work into the world, and we are very proud of everyone who participated to make this project possible. We look forward to hearing you impressions and thoughts and welcome your questions. Just get in touch!

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