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Planners & Searchers:
"Lady Alice"

Søren Assenholt

On the 15th of August 1874 the famous explorer H. M. Stanley sat out to find the sources of the Nile and in that way complete the lifework of the late Dr. Livingstone. Sponsored by New York Herald and The Daily Telegraph, the spectacular expedition brought “Lady Alice”, a custom-made boat in Spanish cedar. As shown by H. M. Stanley’s own coppers and notes the boat could be taken down to five parts and thus carried over land by just twenty men.

Today “Lady Alice” is located in the ethnographic museum in Kinshasa, D.R. Congo, reportedly in a serious state of decay. The museum itself is placed on a ridge above the Congo-river, a place of considerable strategic importance to the government’s armed forces. This area has proved inaccessible to the public and any first hand experience of the boat therefore unattainable.

“Lady Alice” is a piece of Congolese colonial history, the authenticity of which is mythological. In the spirit of the museum Søren Assenholt claims the object as his witness and in the installation Planners and Searchers: "Lady Alice” the absence of the past and the present is tied together in an inviolable bond.