Artist Projects

Kitoko Ya Kolela: A Theater of War and Fashion

Carlo Ontal

Kitoko Ya Kolela—Congolese Lingala for “So Beautiful I Could Cry”—is a two-year public engagement that consists of: choreographed still photography of militia violence; a photo narrative that mirrors Jesus’ Stations of the Cross with the suffering of the Congolese people; meditations on European depictions of massacres by Goya, as re-enacted by Congolese peasants in a warlord-controlled village; and a pseudo-documentary film as psychedelic road trip through African war zones by the artist, a United Nations filmmaker. Cognizant of his own complicity from within the humanitarian-industrial complex, and drained of confidence in our usual modes of engagement except for the art process, the artist employs myth, fashion and poetry to incite urgent reflection—clarity over sentiment—upon our new worlds of pain, where ultra-violence is both medium and message.