2027 - Memoirs of a silverback

Photographs by Gilles Martin

Exhibition available for hire

Professionals at your service…

Gilles Martin has over 30 years’ experience in the field of producing, setting up, and hiring photographic exhibitions. His clients include the French Senate, the Museums of Natural History of Lille, Bordeaux, Tours, Nantes, and Bayonne, as well as the most prestigious international photography and nature festivals.
His network (graphic designers, editors, photo laboratories, and artisans) means that he can set up exhibitions for you on a turnkey basis.

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Silverback-Memorial Limited Editions

Exhibition − Memorial − Happening

The scientific community is unanimous: several species of primates are at risk of becoming extinct in their natural habitats in the next 10 to 15 years. The orangutan, the bonobo, the chimpanzee, and the gorilla are amongst those species threatened with extinction in the short term if exceptional protection measures are not put in place as a matter of utmost urgency.

Based on that finding and in order to give a jolt to consciences, the photographic Happening “2027 – Memoirs of a silverback” projects spectators into the future: on 1st November 2027, the last representative of the mountain gorilla species called Gorilla beringei beringei dies, killed by poachers.

A sanctuary for Kolinga

An indoor or outdoor exhibition. The Memorial Exhibition “2027 – Memoirs of a silverback” is a funerary sanctuary set up in honour of Kolinga the silverback. Before he died, he left to living beings the memoirs of his life in the Congo cloud forest…

Obituary notice

To mark spirits and to ensure that the public is anchored in 2027, the presentation panel for the exhibition is a giant obituary notice that announces the extinction of the last mountain gorilla. The staging, heavy with symbolism, calls forth emotion, and, like a deforming mirror, it propels us – regardless of our beliefs – to our own deaths or to those of beings who are dear to us. Humans and gorillas share almost 99% of their genes; that genetic closeness reinforces the troubling sense of belonging.


The cemetery is made up of 130 crosses (or more, depending on the space available). The crosses are identical and aligned in neat rows, as in a USA war cemetery. The event can be held both inside and outside.


The memorial is set opposite the cemetery. On its front face, spectators can reach the memoirs of Kolinga, the dead gorilla. The text is written in the first person. The story: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), November 2027. Kolinga, the last representative of the mountain gorillas, has just been killed by a hail of bullets from a Kalashnikov machine gun fired by a poacher. Before dying, Kolinga calls to mind his past. He tells his story, his childhood, his survival in the forest, and the extinction of his fellows…


An imposing USA-style coffin, silver in colour, stands in the middle of the funerarium. Inside it lies Kolingas body. On the walls, Gilles Martin presents an exhibition of 50 black-and-white pictures.

Kolinga's chronology 1986-2027

The chronology uses twenty dates to takes us through Kolinga’s life, from birth in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo to death in 2027.


The event can take place on the date of the private view. The public invited to the Happening “2027 – Memoirs of a silverback” will take part in Kolinga’s symbolic burial. Initially, guests spend a moment of silence before the gorilla’s remains in the funeral parlour. Next, they form a cortege that follows the coffin, which is carried by six bearers dressed in black. The procession leaves the funeral parlour and ends at Kolinga’s tomb. Before burial, solemn homage is paid to the gorilla by a storyteller reciting Kolinga’s memoirs. To close the ceremony, Gilles Martin gives a funeral oration to honour the memory of Kolinga one last time.

In the media…

For me, Gilles Martin’s Memorial Exhibition on the last silverback was like an earthquake. The scenography was extremely explicit: there is a warning message before you go in to look upon the coffin…There followed a funeral ceremony for the last gorilla, who died in 2027. Terribly poignant. A message that was strong, yet subtle.Gilles Martin manages the feat of brilliantly renewing his approach. That is not something given to everyone. A gigantic work.” Daniel Gérard


Please do not hesitate to contact us. A pamphlet is available that sets out all the technical details for setting up and transport, as well as the rates for hiring the exhibition. 
Phone : +33 (0) 2 47 66 98 57 − Email : contact@gilles-martin.com