'Charging Tesla Crash, a speculation' by Sammy Baloji, Daddy Tshikaya, Jean Katambayi and Marjolijn Dijkman at the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale, DRC, 2019 (Photo: Uriel Urlow)

Musasa explaining Material Matters by Musasa and Maarten Vanden Eynde, Picha residency, Lubumbashi, DRC, 2018 (Photo: Alain Nsenga)

Le Vide by Georges Senga and Earthing Dischange by Marjolijn Dijkman, Cargo in Context, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2019 (Photo: Aatjan Renders)

'Tesla Crash, a speculation' (maquette) by Sammy Baloji, Daddy Tshikaya and Jean Katambayi, with 'Material Matters', by Musasa and Maarten Vanden Eynde, Contour Biennale, Mechelen, Belgium, 2019 (Photo: Georges Senga)

Kombo ya Sika by Georges Senga and maquette of Tesla Crash by Sammy Baloji, Daddy Tshikaya and Jean Katambayi, On-Trade-Off- Green Gold, Imane Fares Gallery, Paris, France, 2019

On Trade Off presentation, Jean Cocteau Cultural centre, Paris, France (2020)

Ongoing since 2018

On-Trade-Off

Experimental research project

Tesla logo & mining hammer (part of research by Georges Senga)


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

Currently involved: Lotte Arndt, Alexis Destoop, Marjolijn Dijkman, Gulda El Magambo, Pélagie Gbaguidi, Oulimata Gueye, Femke Herregraven, Dorine Mokha (†2021), Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Musasa, Alain Nsenga, Georges Senga, Aïko Solovkine, Pamela Tulizo, Maarten Vanden Eynde

Formerly involved: Sammy Baloji (2018-2019), Daddy Tshikaya (2018-2019)

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Presentations of On-Trade-Off so far: Picha, Lubumbashi, DRC (ongoing); 9th Contour Biennale, Mechelen, BE (2019); Gallery Imane Farès, Paris, FR (2019); La Colonie, Paris, FR (2019); Enough Room for Space, BE (ongoing); Cargo in Context, Amsterdam, NL (2019); De Brakke Grond, Amsterdam, NL (2019); 6th Lubumbashi Biennale, DRC (2019); Centre Culturel Jean Cocteau, FR (2019)

Upcoming Presentations: Z33 in Hasselt, BE (Spring 2022); Framer Framed in Amsterdam, NL (Spring 2023)

Partners for upcoming presentations: Thami Mnyele Foundation, Amsterdam, NL; FLACC, Genk, BE; RCMC, Leiden, NL.

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Artistic Coordination Picha: Georges Senga, Jean Katambayi Mukendi
Artistic Coordination ERforS: Marjolijn Dijkman, Maarten Vanden Eynde
Editorial Team: Lotte Arndt, Oulimata Gueye
Assistant coordination Picha: Didier Shimbi
Assistant coordination ERforS: Constance Nguyen
Logistics at Picha: Gabriele Salmi
Fundraiser: Annette Wolfsberger
Curator film programs: Rosa Spaliviero
Producers (2018-2020): arp: / Katrien Reist, Julia Reist

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Financial support: Digital Earth Fellowship (Hivos Fund); Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF); Kunsten & Erfgoed, BE; Thami Mnyele Foundation; De Brakke Grond, Mondriaan Fund.

On-Trade-Off works on the contemporary dimensions of a question as old, as mythical and as strategic as our relation to energy. Taking the recent run on lithium as a starting point, the project explores a broad range of questions surrounding raw materials for technological industries, financial speculation, and the history of electricity.

On-Trade-Off was sparked by the ‘discovery’ of a large lithium deposit in Manono, a mining area in the DRC. The mine is not only a place of historical extractivism but plays a key role for the promise of green energy. As Manono is currently transformed into a site of speculation and future exploitation, On-Trade-Off simultaneously unfolds as a structure for counter-narratives and alternative forms of collaboration and artistic creation.

By setting up a transversal dynamics that abolishes centres and exoticism, we aim to render obsolete the fallacious dichotomy between those who ‘hold the technological knowledge’ and those who should catch up’. Our process of art production puts the question of (free) tools, (fair) practices, and knowledge (that matter) at the core. We have the ambition to imagine and articulate critical, sensitive and speculative works of art that echo the incredible and tormented times we are living in.

On-Trade-Off will present new artworks developed during residencies and research on site in Belgium, DR Congo, China and Australia. Our propositions – in media as varied as photography, film, painting, sculpture and digital formats – debate how technological innovation depends on raw material extraction.

As On-Trade-Off brings together the extremities of the world-spanning value chains, from its exploitative mining economies to its seductive product surfaces, it simultaneously experiments with a large array of artistic languages enabled by those same raw materials and technologies. The tension between examining matter and myths underpinning high tech innovation, and the use of those same technologies for our international collaboration becomes a fertile ground for the project. We are working on both physical exhibitions and as a digital Online Platform. On-Trade-Off is merging multiple sites of work, life and exchange that – although geographically distant – are central to its existence.

While the South/North borders are highly obstructed, the shipping of metals and ores is assured. How can we think beyond the dividing force of exploitative technologies today and, as artists, create new spaces for imagination, stories, and connection across continents? As a collective we can reveal the blind spots, by giving forms to mutations, by exploring the imaginary potential of the very present moment.

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.” – Octavia Butler

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On-Trade-Off is developed and presented in various places, formats and contexts, each presentation focusing on different parts of the storyline.

After several meetings in residencies in 2018, a first series of public presentations started within the framework of Contour Biennale 9 in Mechelen (curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez), travelled to la Colonie and galerie Imane Fares in Paris, and afterwards to Cargo in Context and De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, the 6th Lubumbashi Biennale in Lubumbashi, and the Jean-Cocteau Cultural Centre in Paris.

It will continue to Z33 in Hasselt, BE (Feb - Aug 2022); Framer Framed in Amsterdam, NL (2022-2023) and finally be presented in Lubumbashi, DRC.