Lumumba’s Bike


  • Piet Defraeye University of Alberta



Sven Augustijnen is a Belgian film maker and visual artist. In 2012 he contributed a piece called AWB 082-3317 7922 to the Track exhibition in the city of Gent (Belgium). Track invited artists to provide art installations that were site-specific, and engaged with local narratives, history, and situations. Augustijnen had an old bike chain-locked against a park tree, with a bunch of charcoal on its baggage rack; it stood in the vicinity of the so-called “Moorken” monument, a memorial for the heroic adventures of the brothers Van de Velde in Congo Free State, erected in Gent’s prominent Citadelpark at the end of the 19th century. The idea of AWB 082-3317 7922 came about during the shooting of his film Spectres (2011), in which Augustijnen goes in search for the location of Patrice Lumumba’s assassination in Katanga, Congo, in January 1961. While the theme of the bike installation is the (only partially resolved) murder of Patrice Lumumba, first Prime Minister of the newly independent Congo, the piece spawns a spatial and historical cartography of events and developments within the park landscape as well as the greater urban, and global scope. It is the kind of street art that needs its environment for any chance of meaning, which derive from the contiguities it allows and creates.


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