1 / 6       Paolo Pellegrin and Alex Majoli, Congo, 2012. Majoli/Pellegrin/Magnum Photo. Courtesy of the artists and Cherry Tree Gallery, Megève. © Rencontres Arles.

2 / 6       Paolo Pellegrin and Alex Majoli, Congo, 2012. Majoli/Pellegrin/Magnum Photo. Courtesy of the artists and Cherry Tree Gallery, Megève. © Rencontres Arles.

3 / 6       Paolo Pellegrin, left, Alex Majoli and Natacha Wolinski during the public meeting Les obscures clartes d'Alex Majoli held at the Cour Fanton. © FPmag.

4 / 6       During the visit to the exhibition Congo by Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin. © FPmag.

5 / 6       During the visit to the exhibition Congo by Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin. © FPmag.

6 / 6       During the visit to the exhibition Congo by Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin. © FPmag.

Congo

The names make knees shake and the expectations for this show are enormous. Before visiting it we await the public meeting hosted by Natacha Wolinski. As a result of the desire not to talk about the usual story of the tragedies in troubled Congo, the two authors present the work. No pietism and the search for a new language to carry forward and implement the process that began almost a decade ago with Off Broadway (2006). Striking is the question from Wolinski, in my opinion not free from malice, when she asks the authors if you can establish a relationship between the look of the landscape format and a totalitarian vision of the subjects. A statement that makes one think of a largely colonialist way of looking at it…
The exhibition itself is impressive and certainly worth a visit. In the absence of attributes (continuing the road taken of the aforementioned Off Broadway show), one can rely only on intuition and knowledge of the authors to attempt arbitrary paternity. It passes lightly from colour to black and white declined with printing techniques dramatically different from the landscape format to a wide variety of sizes and formats, and you arrive to no less than collage. The feeling is that the authors wanted to offer the viewer the pieces of a huge mosaic that can be reassembled at will, without having to necessarily retrace the steps of those who took the photos. What certainly made a great impression are the two totems symmetrically facing each other in the last huge room. The walls that counter pose each other towards the centre appear as walls covered with images, posters, colours, faces and bodies that endure the urban use of the exterior walls. Fragments of life, that overlap incessantly creating composite figures, a fascinating cross section of a daily life lived intensely. Certainly the promise of a non-pietistic look has been respected, which would be an enormous merit, as pointed out by the Congolese writer Alain Mabanckou on the presentation panel of the exhibition. The biggest uncertainty for those facing a work of this kind is to be able to just get rid of the idea formed on the basis of their cultural background. For this reason, to avoid pietism made full use of by some is already a great merit, as just as great is to take on the task of trailblazing in the search for new forms of expression in line with the times. Of course in the first case it does not mean that success is around the corner, as Natacha Wolinski caustically tried to remind them, while in the second the downside is that when you embark on a march into unknown territory you must be willing to leave some casualties on the field. [ S. I. ]

- - -

CONGO
by Alex Majoli and Paolo Pellegrin
Parc des Ateliers - Magasin Électrique | until September 20th, 2015
admission fee: 25,00 € (Pass Atelier)

published on 2015-07-25 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

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