Le Réduit

Sven Augustijnen

As he plunged into the history of Belgium’s military intervention in the Congo following the country’s declaration of independence in 1960, Sven Augustijnen found his attention and interest drawn to the city of Kamina. While working on his film Spectres, Augustijnen came across some people who put him on the trail of a national redoubt Belgium had planned to build in the province of Katanga in the 1950s. His curiosity was stimulated by the absence of clear information and data on the topic, and by his longstanding interest in anything that has to do, whether directly or remotely, with the communist spectre that haunted Europe in the post-War years. Some preliminary research resulted in the discovery of an archive fonds, at Belgium’s Centre de Documentation historique des Forces armées, which contained information linked to the national redoubt project.

Augustijnen then set out on the massive task of documenting and analysing thousands of photos, negatives, carbon copies and various plans. These documents had never left the archive, or been studied by anyone. Thanks to the complicity of one of the archivists, Augustijnen was able to exhume the plans for a project of stunning proportions undertaken by the Belgian government: to develop a military base and a governmental city, to serve as refuge, in the city of Kamina.

Le Réduit
retraces the history of the Kamina Base, which at first appeared as an architectural and urban materialization of the fear of a Soviet invasion, but which would go on to play a strategic role during political upheavals that destabilized Congo in the months and years that followed the declaration of independence. (La Loge)

2016-2019, installation

This presentation of Le Réduit would not have been possible without La Loge and Laura Herman, and the support and close collaboration of the Centre de Documentation historique des Forces armées (ACOS IS/CA), Algemene Dienst Inlichting en Veiligheid (ADIV), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, Jan Mot and Auguste Orts.