12.11.2014 — 15.11.2014
Inaugural exhibition debuting at the 2015 edition of the Rencontres d’Arles.
“Photography is generally defined as the art of creating images by means of light. The photographer is thus, to some extent, someone who paints with light. We may, however, find him constantly juggling with shadow in order to bring the image truly to life, to infuse it with an intensity even more dazzling than that of the light itself, thus revealing the hidden face of reality to the viewer. This is really the central drama of this work; its principal character is the Congo, my country of origin, a country I can revisit in these photographs. Paolo and Alex have succeeded in etching true authenticity onto these images, characters, and protagonists, onto bizarre objects and the environment, even onto a particular atmosphere, which is not perceptible at first. This cannot have been an easy task. Should they look down on the Congo from above, or melt into the background, blending into the local population and letting them live real lives, expressing themselves as though the camera lens wasn’t pointing at them? By resisting the temptation to overstate, Majoli and Pellegrin have given me the sense of being a “foreigner” in my own country, revealing a different Congo to me, one I had not and never would have expected to find. They have avoided the pitfalls one usually finds when the Western eye, turned on Africa, focuses on anthropological reportage or on relating an exotic journey, embellished with carefully chosen photos to satisfy the need for adventure and escape.
Majoli and Pellegrin confirm our sense that true photography should take things that are distant —that is to say, without interest—and restore to them their autonomous existence and particular meaning. True photography should proceed with a certain reticence, without indulging in selfcensorship. This is the fine balance that this work achieves. I can well imagine the photographers’ journeys in pursuit of exactly the right image, their discussions with local people, gaining their confidence. I imagine, too, that for the duration of this project they must have become full-time “Congolese,” living with the people in cities and in villages, sharing their joys and sorrows, crossing rivers in flood, stepping over public garbage bins, mingling with crowds of wildly excited children, roaming the banks of tributaries and streams, watching the endurance of the river dockworkers. The result is always true: there is always emotion here, often a poignant emotion, in the images of certain buildings standing sinister and empty, or of worn-out vehicles abandoned at the roadside, or of a tree trunk sawn down by a determined hand…”
Words by Alain Mabanckou