The Office for Transnational Financial Equalization
2020 - 2021
Info about public moments for projects will be updated on social media.
The Office for Transnational Financial Equalization is an initiative of independent Congolese and Swiss artists and cultural institutions. The idea for the initiative was born during the work on the projects Hercules of Lubumbashi by the Congolese choreographer Dorine Mokha and the Swiss musician Elia Rediger and The Congo Tribunal by the Swiss director Milo Rau, the dramaturg Eva-Maria Bertschy and the Congolese lawyer and human rights activist Sylvestre Bisimwa, and was developed in close collaboration with Centre d’art Waza and its director Patrick Mudekereza.
It is based on a network of artists, civil society organizations and cultural institutions that were involved in the two projects and that now extends its reach beyond national borders with each new project. The overarching goal of The Office for Transnational Financial Equalization is to advance the production and dissemination of art and culture in the DRC and initiate debates on the relationship between the so-called neo-extractivism of the mineral business and art production.
The publication of the Paradise Papers in 2017 brought to light a corruption scandal detailing the problematic manner in which the Swiss raw materials giant Glencore secured mining concessions for the two largest cobalt mines in the Katanga mining region. The revealed cost of this deal, USD 445 million, is equivalent to what the DRC government spends annually on education and culture, and is only a fraction of the revenue the Congolese state loses through corruption and tax avoidance in the mining industry which therefore cannot be invested in cultural and social activities.
Artists in the region are almost completely reliant on international projects and support from European cultural foundations for their livelihood. The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on travel has highlighted the precariousness of this system. Additionally, European productions that engage with the mining and socio-political context in the DRC invest the bulk of their budgets in wages and travel of European artists to the DRC for research towards works that are shown exclusively in Europe. Within the region there is no framework or local funding support for the production and presentation of arts and culture.
OBJECTIVES & PROJECTS
From this basis, The Office for Transnational Financial Equalization looks to explore formats of transnational artistic production that raise awareness about the economic disparities and links between Switzerland and the DRC, limit the need for international travel, are jointly initiated with at least 50% of the fees paid to artists in DRC and which are made available to the public in both Switzerland and the Katanga region of the DRC.
The Office for Transnational Financial Equalization will launch with a programme of four pilot projects that examine economic interrelationships, develop formats for transnational cooperation and promote public debate around state cultural policy and cultural infrastructure. The longer-term goal of the initiative also focuses on rejuvenating neglected state theatres and museums in the Katanga region.
Hercules of Lubumbashi
Shortly before the lockdown, the oratorio Hercules of Lubumbashi was presented in the parliament house of the eponymous mining town in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The joint project of the Congolese choreographer and dancer Dorine Mokha and Elia Rediger, a Swiss musician and composer focuses on the increasing demand for cobalt, on corruption and exploitation in the mining industry and the destruction of the environment.
The transnational dialogue on economic injustices stimulated by this project was brought to a sudden halt by the international travel restrictions due to the pandemic. Instead of travelling to Zurich to perform Hercules at the festival Theaterspektakel, the artists have responded to the new situation by creating a truly cross-border music and video installation with live elements showing how everything is connected in a globalised world.
August 26 to 30, 2020, 6 to 10 pm, at Rote Fabrik Theater Zürich
November 4, 2020, at Centre d’art Waza, Lubumbashi (Talk)
November 6, 2020, at Mess Gécamines (former cinema of the state owned mining company) in Lubumbashi
Mid November, at FICKIN – Festival International de Cinéma de Kinhsasa (to be confirmed)
The Congo Tribunal. Kolwezi Hearings
In 2020, the investigators of the The Congo Tribunal – a world economic court of civil society initiated by the Swiss director and author Milo Rau – will travel to the Kolwezi mining region, where the raw materials giant Glencore operates two of the world’s largest cobalt mines. They investigate the responsibility of political elites and multinational corporations in a series of human rights violations, cases of environmental pollution and corruption. During the pandemic, the Kolwezi Hearings are held as a transnational tribunal: After the hearings in Kolwezi, a part of the international jury will gather in Zurich for a preliminary verdict. The final hearings and verdict of the tribunal will take place in Kolwezi in February 2021.
October 5 to 10, 2020, Hearings in Kolwezi
October 25, 2020, 4 pm, at Box im Schiffbau, Schauspielhaus Zürich
February, 2021, at Cercle Manika in Kolwezi
voyage des masques (WT)
In 2019, the Riedberg Museum exhibited over a hundred masks that the German art ethnologist Hans Himmelheber had acquired on his research trips through Belgian Congo. In order to breathe new life into the objects that have since been stored in European collections, the curators supplemented them with comments by contemporary Congolese artists. The project voyage des masques (WT) carries out its own version of the archival turn and asks what happens if we turn the whole process around: The Swiss artist and set designer Lukas Stucki sends a series of masks, from his studio in Winterthur to the recording studio of sound artist FM Einheit in Bavaria. From there they travel to Lubumbashi, where they are exhibited in an exhibition curated by Dorine Mokha and Patrick Mudekereza in the Museum of Lubumbashi and commented on by Congolese artists. The masks will also be used by local performers in live outdoor performances directed by Dorine Mokha.
End of February-March 2021, Outdoor performances & Exhibition, Musée National de Lubumbashi + Public spaces
The hands that feed you
The hands that feed you is a project by visual artist João Roxo from Mozambique, which deals with the system of humanitarian aid in African countries and explore visually their hierarchies and prejudices. In an exhibition curated by the Centre d’art Waza a series of banners will be displayed and commented on by artists from Lubumbashi. The banners, the comments and the pictures of the exhibition will then be sent to Birsfelden, where they will be on display at SALTS in an exhibition curated by Samuel Leuenberger, as part of the Waza-SALTS year-long collaboration in 2021.
December 11 to 18, 2021, Exhibition at Centre d’art Waza
March 2021, Exhibition at SALTS, Birsfelden