“Style Congo. Heritage and Heresy” explores the politics of cultural representation and appropriation through contemporary artistic and architectural interventions as well as historic documents and materials from CIVA's collections. The exhibition visually chronicles the representation of Congo in international expositions held between 1885 and 1958, using Art Nouveau as its anchor point. The movement—at the time also called Style Congo—coincided with King Leopold II’s exploitation of the Congo and reflects a widespread fascination with “exotic” materials and forms.
The works in the exhibition question and destabilise canonical histories and the colonial roots of this heritage. By examining marks of colonisation in the city of Brussels and in the Congolese urban landscape, they present a decolonial resignification of private and public spaces, seeking to rewrite the margins of history into the center.