Tales of the Copper Cross Garden was commissioned for the Dokumenta 14.
Part of the installation, the video documents the process by which copper is drawn into wire from glowing, semi-liquid ingots.
A choral mass provides the soundtrack, while sporadic all-caps intertitles weave biographical details (Baloji grew up in the mining region of Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC) with a reflection on the role of the Church in the colonial enterprise in Africa.
On a wall perpendicular to the screen, a large-scale print of a grainy black and white photograph depicts singing choirboys.
Over their white robes, they wear large Katanga crosses: copper forms resembling the cross of St Andrew that, since at least the 13th century, were used in the mineral-rich region as a form of currency, as women’s dowry and as talismans buried with the deceased.
When, following Congo’s independence from Belgium in 1960, Katanga briefly seceded from the newly formed republic, three crosses appeared on its short-lived flag.
Directed by Sammy Baloji
Edited by Simon Arazi
45min – Belgium 2017