Kinshasa, The Imaginary City

9th Architecture Biennale, Venice

Can a city exist without architecture? And what is architecture? How modern is modernity? How universal is urban planning? Can urbanity be immaterial? Which urban visions does it rely on then? These are the questions at the heart of Kinshasa, The Imaginary City.

As the former capital of Belgian Congo, Kinshasa occupies an important place in the history of Belgian architecture and urbanism. Today Kinshasa has become a postcolonial African city, where alternative modernities are generated and new local and global identities forged. With the exhibition Kinshasa, The Imaginary City the curators intend to stimulate the ongoing debate on the contemporary Central-African urban scape. It is a specific urban reality which invites us to question and rethink the classic urban paradigms.


The exhibition and accompanying book result from the intensive collaboration between anthropologist Filip De Boeck, photographer/filmmaker Marie-Françoise Plissart and architect/curator Koen Van Synghel. In 2000, after many years of field research in Kinshasa, De Boeck met Plissart at her first Kinshasa exhibition. In the following years, they returned several times to the city together. Plissart’s photos and videos date from the period 2000-2002, whereas the video material of De Boeck and Van Synghel was produced in 2004.

This exhibition was rewarded with the Golden Lion for Best Land Pavillion in 2004.

12.09.2004 - 07.11.2004

Belgian Pavilion, Venice (IT)

Contemporary Architecture, Photography

Collaborators :
Curators : Filip De Boeck and Koen Van Synghel
Project Managers : Saskia Kloosterboer and Gert Renders
Photography : Marie-Françoise Plissart

Function :