Oliver Leu (1976) studied comparative theology and Indology in Cologne and Bonn before he turned to photography. He trained as a photographer at the University of Applied Sciences in Bielefeld. In his artistic practice Oliver Leu is concerned with questioning religion, the construction of history, the abuse of power and the consequences of colonial pasts. Since 2013 Oliver has developed these ideas in his project on Leopold II, for which he is researching and photographing the various forms of representation of the colonial history of Congo in Belgium.
Leopold’s Legacy by Oliver Leu deals with the forms of representation of the colonial history in Belgium. In his speech from the throne in 1865 king Leopold II dreamed of a Belgium that would be bigger, stronger and more beautiful one day. When he became the private owner of the Congo in 1885 his dream started to become true. It ended when the Congo atrocities became known and the king had to hand his colony over to the belgium state in 1908.
In his project Oliver Leu is looking at the different aspects of the representation of the colonial past that are visible in monuments, buildings and citiescapes. He is also drawn to the hidden parts of this history. The artist questions how monuments change their meaning when we look at them today and how the perception of Leopold‘s role as a glorious king has altered in the last 100 years or more.
"During my residency at the Frans Masereel Center I focused on historic pictures from my archive that are connected to the colonial history of the Congo and Belgium. The aim was to rethink and incorporate these materials into my work
Leopold's Legacy by adding extra layers to an etching/ photopolymer print creating a slipping back and forth in time and looking at visibility/ invisibility and distance and closeness."
13.02.2017 - 24.03.2017