According to the United Nations Environment Program, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is Africa’s most “water-rich” nation. Yet, in recent years, more than seventy percent of the country’s population has faced an acute shortage of clean drinking water. Long focused on issues affecting Congolese society, Samba’s painting includes texts in French and Lingala that reference conditions of existence brought about by rapid modernization. Here the artist represents himself on a rocket leaving Earth to look for water on Mars. Suggestive both for its political overtones and in the search’s ultimate futility, the artist proposes an intentionally unrealistic solution to his country’s ills, underscoring how urgently humanity must adjust its relationship with the environment.
Gallery label from 2019