The Laman Encounter is the output of an informal meeting between Gilles Aubry and members of the University Center of Missiology (CUM) in Kinshasa in July 2011. The goal of the meeting was to engage into a discussion around one single photograph displaying Swedish missionary Karl Edvard Laman demonstrating a phonograph to an assembly of Congolese people in 1910.
Through successive descriptions and interpretations of this picture, the participants comment on the original encounter of African people with the white man's modern audio technology and on the progressive appropriation of this technology by Congolese churches for evangelization purposes. By extension, the discussion transforms into a collective reflection on the participant's own practices, both in the fields of contemporary missionary activities and of post-colonial ethnographic researches.
The project consists of a printed publication with two additional soundtracks. It has been created for the exhibition The Urban Cultures of Global Prayers.
The participants were: Gilles Aubry (artist and originator of the meeting), the Pastor Sylvain Bongese (librarian of the CUM), the Reverend Delphin Kapay (Assistant Professor at the CUM), Jean-Claude Elumba (chaplain of the CUM), Innocent Kabesha (PhD student of the CUM) and Bienvenue Nkelani (writer and alumni of the CUM).
Transcript of the discussion (English version).