“Vertical City”, an animated loop, is part of the two-channel video installation “Ville Fantôme: from Utopia to the present”, in... Read More
“Vertical City”, an animated loop, is part of the two-channel video installation “Ville Fantôme: from Utopia to the present”, in which Henrik Langsdorf juxtaposes the utopian architectural vision of Congolese artist Bodys Isek Kingelez (1948–2015) with his own visual reflections on urbanism in present-day Kinshasa in the form of animation and collage.
It features a collage of Kingelez’ “extrème maquettes” — brightly colored buildings made from cardboard and scrap materials — woven into a proliferation of plant-like shapes that, instead of buds and blossoms, bear morsels of existing Kinshasa architecture. The result plays off the notion that dwellings are like living organisms and units are cells, as envisioned by the metabolist architecture movement in Japan in the 1950s and 60s.
In the resulting thicket Langsdorf pays tribute to the denizens of Kinshasa, who pulse through the ever-congested arteries of this city in overcrowded yellow cabs and taxi buses .
It is these two poles of Congolese creativity, the exalted yet controlled grandiosity of Kingelez’ vision and the humble improvisation of the daily struggle of the people of Kinshasa, that Langsdorf seeks to both celebrate and refract through the prism of his dystopian lens.
The video is shown here on its own (white background) and as it was presented at “Light Installations at Weinberg” in Kassel, Germany in 2021. It was first shown at the Congo Biennale in Kinshasa in 2019