History of Art


Gabriella Nugent



The Legacy of Belgian Colonialism in Contemporary Lens-Based Practices on the Democratic Rupublic of Congo

My thesis focuses on contemporary photography and video that addresses the legacy of Belgian colonialism in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In doing so, I endeavour to address the specificity of colonialism in Congo and its afterlives in the global contemporary. My project centres on the work of Sammy Baloji, Michèle Magema, Georges Senga and Kongo Astronauts. These artists, while considering specific events and times in Congo, engage with the country’s transnationalism and its various constructions propagated through, for example, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899). My concerns vary from the structures of work and gender established by colonial enterprises to the assassination of Lumumba and the significance of Congo to contemporary digital technologies.

My PhD is funded by UCL (Departmental Research Studentship in History of Art) and supervised by Professor Tamar Garb.


MA History of Art, University College London (Distinction, Dean's List)

BA History of Art (Asia, Africa and Europe), combined degree between School of Oriental and African Studies and University College London


'Mining Time in Sammy Baloji's Mémoire', African Arts (forthcoming)

Review of 'Filip De Boeck and Sammy Baloji, Suturing the City: Living Together in Congo's Urban Worlds, Autograph ABP, London, 2016' (pdf), Object: Graduate Research and Reviews in the History of Art and Visual Culture, November 2017.

Conference Papers and Talks

‘The Space Age in Kinshasa’, French Studies Graduate Conference, University of Cambridge (25-26 April 2019)

‘Extractions: Kongo Astronauts’, Virtual Spaces: Metaphor and Materiality at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London (9 March 2019)

'Self as Lumumba: Georges Senga's Une vie après la mort', Decolonising the Self: Representations of the Self in Art Theory and Practice across Cultures at SOAS (22 November 2018)

‘Futures Heard: Kongo Astronauts’, Octagon Friday Forum: Noise at The Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London (29 June 2018)

‘The Myth of Patrice Lumumba: George Senga’s Une vie après la mort’, PhD Symposium in History of Art at University College London (26 June 2018)

'The Maintenance of Mobutu's Zaire: Michele Magema's Oyé Oyé', Film, Media and Global Culture Research Seminar at the Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry at University College London (22 March 2018)

'Transnational Extractions: Twists, Turns and Swings in Sammy Baloji's Mémoire (2006)' in the Association for Art History's 'New Voices 2017-18: Art and Movement' at University of Birmingham (11 January 2018)

'Mining Time in Sammy Baloji's Mémoire (2006)' in 'Shapes of Time: Recurrence in Material Culture' colloquium at University of East Anglia, Norwich (16 October 2017)

'Mining Lumbumbashi: On Time, Vision and Frames in Sammy Baloji's Mémoire (2006)', Postgraduate Research Seminar at University College London (12 June 2017)

'Between Temporality and Vitality in Sammy Baloji's Mémoire (2006)' in 'Le passé colonial belge au prisme des productions littéraires et artistiques contemporaines (2000-2015)' at Université libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium (29-31 March 2017)

Respondent for 'Photography, Representation and a Family Portrait' presented by Joy Gregory at Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL in London (17 January 2017)


Autumn 2018: Art in London ('Imaging Africa')

2018-2019: Teaching Assistant for BA Dissertations and Independent Essays

Autumn 2017: Teaching Assistant for HART1001, History of Art and Its Objects

2016-17: Teaching Assistant for HART3904, HART3906 and HART907, BA Dissertations and Independent Essays


Co-organiser of ‘Virtual Spaces: Metaphor and Materiality’ symposium, 9 March 2019, University College London (supported by Octagon Grants and the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art UCL)

Co-organiser of 'Dance and Vulnerability' symposium, 27 January 2018, University College London (supported by Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art UCL)

Research Activities

ReSkIN Assistant Coordinator

Deputy editor of Object journal

Member of the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art, UCL