london

Guy Tillim

The Photographers' Gallery

In this show documenting colonial devastation, one photograph stood out for its optimism. Entitled Residents of Goma salute Laurent Kabila after his army’s takeover of the city from Mobutu’s troops, 1997, it depicts an urban plaza swarming with cheering people. This photograph—the axis around which the show turns—captures an ecstatic moment of frenzied energy between dark passages of Congolese history: the joyous end of the dictatorial command of Mobutu Sese Seko, vicious inheritor of the colonial rule of Belgium’s King Leopold II, but also the commencement of the country’s splintering into warring factions, each fighting for independence and democracy—mere code words, as it would turn out, for raw power.

Placing past and present in explosive counterpoint, most of Tillim’s works present two or three large photographs printed together on a single framed support. Those documenting

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