The Congolese/German duo Mukenge/Schellhammer is a guinea pig for post-postcolonial thought and practice in the laboratory of contemporary Kinshasa. The duo exposes itself to confrontational situations in changing social systems and situations between Europe and the DRC, capturing and reworking their experiences and investigations in an ongoing artistic process that includes paintings, performance, scenography, street art, and social sculpture. The duo has been living and working between Europe and Kinshasa since 2016. They link the constant shifts and hybridity of identity to produce work both collectively and separately using cultural practices and social norms against themselves.
When working in-between different cultural, social, and economic spaces, predisposed personal perceptions and individual comfort zones are constantly challenged and regularly demolished. An every-day experience that leads to a fragmented, multi-layered perspective, in which the shreds and scraps of cultural and personal collision constantly mirror and question each other – allowing Mukenge/Schellhammer to develop inconsistency into a conceptual approach that deals with contradictions as contradictions, rather than resolving them.
Trough the registration and interpretation of everyday trauma and cultural shocks, the duo has generated a very subjective approach to contemporary issues such as globalisation, postcolonialism, or interculturality. Their approach can be described as a micro-investigation into individual and social realities, highlighting common believes, thoughts, patterns, affects, and every-day actions in which contemporary global contradictions, epistemologies, and ontologies of our colonial, neo-colonial, and postcolonial worlds manifest themselves.
With a special focus on contemporary pop culture and other popular cultural phenomena, the works of Mukenge/Schellhammer reflect on, analyse, de- and recompose stereotypes, simplifications, misunderstandings and subjective interpretations in-between diverse social, economic, and cultural systems of Europe and Africa. The visual result is a combination of expressive techniques, academic painting, and popular mainstream that aims to connect “elitist” techniques of “high art” with aesthetics of popular mass culture – extending questions about globalisation, (post-)coloniality, appropriation, and re-appropriation into a critique of one’s own formal artistic education and practice.