1 October - 14 October 2018

On-Trade-Off: Residency period & Artist Talk

Picha, Lubumbashi, DRC

Initiated by: Picha (Lubumbashi, DRC) and Enough Room for Space (Brussels, BE)

Picha, Lubumbashi, DRC

Period: 1 October - 14 October 2018

13 October 2018 - 17:00:
Artist Talk with Jean Katambayi, Daddy Tshikaya, Musasa and Maarten Vanden Eynde at Picha.

Daddy Tshikaya working at Picha

During the residency period Jean Katambayi and Daddy Tshikaya made a scale model of the famous Tesla X, using copper wires and other recycled materials. This small model will help to prepare for the construction of the 1:1 copy that will be made during the Digital Earth fellowship (link) that was awarded to Jean Katambayi.

Maarten Vanden Eynde worked together with the Lubumbashi based painter Musasa on the creation of painted wall charts, inspired by old educational charts. By developing a universal visual language using various drawings, pictographs and symbols as a visual rebus, the charts summarize the origin, use and influence of Lithium and other pivotal elements like copper, gold and uranium.


The artist initiatives Picha and Enough Room for Space are developing an experimental research project, called On-Trade-Off. To be understood as a collective artistic trajectory, the project looks both at the importance of one specific raw material, called lithium, for the transition into a green and fossil fuel free economy, and the influence its extraction and transformation has on everyone and everything involved, ranging from the miners who take the lightest metal in existence out of the ground, to the produced batteries that power cars, homes and potentially the entire planet.

Using one chemical element (Li3) from the periodic table, allows us to zoom in on particular social, ecological, economic and political phenomena that are present in almost all production processes since the start of triangular trade in the 16th century: inhumane labor during the exploitation and extraction processes of the raw materials, a perpetuated economic imbalance to maintain economic growth, and uninformed end-consumers that are unaware of the afterlife of their purchased wholesale goods. Exposing the whole chain of production around Lithium enables us to connect the (seemingly independent) elements that sustain this recurring disbalance. For each presentation, we will focus on different parts of one storyline that captures this repetitive behavior.

The research follows the trail of lithium, starting from one specific mine in D.R. Congo, called Manono, which probably contains the world’s largest reserve of lithium. Informed by the complex global production process to create ‘sustainable’ energy, the journey continues to the largest single battery in the world, Tesla's Energy Storage System in Australia and other storage devices worldwide. AVZ, an Australian mining company, holds 60% of the Manono Project which has a size off 188 KM2.

Participants: Sammy Baloji (BE/DRC), Jean-Pierre Bekolo (FR/CM), Alexis Destoop (AU/BE), Marjolijn Dijkman (BE/NL), Gulda El Magambo (DRC), Femke Herregraven (NL), Jean Katambayi (DRC), Frank Mukunday (DRC) & Trésor Tshibangu (DRC), Musasa (DRC), Georges Senga (DRC), Daddy Tshikaya (DRC), Maarten Vanden Eynde (BE)