After years studying at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kinshasa—following teachers’ advice on creating work with “proper” materials, such as resin and plaster of paris—some students in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) decided to do something different. They created art with what was in their immediate environment, including tires, exhaust pipes, foam, plastic bottles, antennas, tins that had held milk or paint, feathers, CDs, rubber slippers, and other discarded items.
This work, the artists believed, felt familiar to a Congolese audience and spoke to a particularly egregious aspect of Congolese life: waste.
Waste generated locally by citizens. Waste foisted on the country by hyper-consumerist nations. Waste triggered by the endless extraction of resources from the DRC’s