ZAM Reporter

Kinshasa, DRC | When chaos provides art

A new documentary shows the city as an assault on all your senses. It's loud, smelly, full of contrast, tasty and hot. And there is street art everywhere.

It's messy and total chaos. Kinshasa is one of Africa's fastest growing mega cities – but nobody knows exactly how many Kinois there are. Rough estimates say about 16 million. Next to some filthy rich people, the great majority of the people in Kinshasa's cités struggle to make ends need. There is a shortage of everything. At the same time the city boils, shivers with raw energy in all its conceivable forms. Art is everywhere in Kinshasa. Of course, there is music, but also visual and performance art is created and exhibited in public space.

Kinshasa's chaos provides opportunities. It allows for unchecked, relentless creativity.

Système K, a new documentary by Renaud Barret, premiered 15 January 2020 in France, shows some of the vibrant aspects of Kinshasa's society. It shows how art is taken to the streets – the art of performance is ingrained into Kinshasa's DNA – how trash is upcycled in into sculptures and how the body – painted, dressed or otherwise transformed – is used as an instrument.

In the words of Barret: “in a city which is constantly reinventing itself, art is a necessity, a way to survive.”

Watch the trailer here.