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KINSHASA 87 colonialist modernity was violently smashed and destroyed.5 And yet, Kinshasa somehow also constantly returns to, and remains hypnotized by, the images reflected in the mirror of colonialist modernity. Often this fascination is expressed in playful ways that, because of their ludic and parodying nature, also manage to transcend a mere mimetic reprise of the colonial legacy and of former metropolitan models. Think, for example, of the sapeurs’ appropriation of western designer clothes, or the fact that Bandalungwa and Lemba, two municipalities in Kinshasa, are currently engaged in a dispute over the ownership of the title of ‘Paris’ and ville lumière, even though (or precisely because) both are heavily hit by constant power cuts and remain in the dark during many days on end.6 The same continuing fascination with modernity’s propositions marks the work of Kinshasa based artists such as Kingelez Bodys Isek or Bylex. Both are known for the utopian urban visions that transpire in their artistic work, and especially in pieces such as Ville fantôme, ‘the Phantom City’ (by Kingelez – see De Boeck & Plissart 2004: 250-251) or the Cité Touristique, the ‘Tourist City’ (by Bylex) (cf. Van Synghel & De Boeck 2013). Whereas the maquettes that gave form to the colonial urban plans of the 1950s are slowly decaying (as are the neighborhoods that they gave birth to), the maquettes of these two artists revive and rework many of the modernist urbanist propositions, albeit with a specific twist. In different ways, the emancipatory and humanitarian preoccupations of colonial modernity, but also its religious overtones, its moralizing framework, its authoritarian and totalitarian nature, and its obsession with security issues and control, return incessantly in their artistic oeuvre and in the form and content of the ideal city that they propose. What is striking in these propositions, is the fact that the ideal city is not viewed as an entity to inhabit on a permanent basis, but as a place to counterbalance existing cities, a place to visit and resource oneself. The ideal city is, in a way, a ‘The Tower’, local skyscraper under construction.   Photo: Municipality of Limete, March 2015


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