Friuli Venezia Giulia Fotografia 2017

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Jean Depara, Bienvenue à la fête, from the series Night in kinshasa, 1955-1965. © Jean Depara/Revue Noire. Jean Depara, Bienvenue à la fête, from the series Night in Kinshasa, 1955-1965. © Jean Depara/Revue Noire.

The days and nights of Kinshasa

It is the subtle exhilaration of independence from colonial domination to underline the images of Jean Depara's Las nuits et le jours de Kinshasa, 1951-1975 (The days and nights of Kinshasa, 1951-1975). We are in Congo, at Kinshasa, and the men and women photographed by Depara live in a dimension that in his own way interprets Western models. The overall image that comes from that is of a population that dances, devoting themselves to the care of their bodies, and that of a city that sings and finally starts to take its destiny in hand. Or at least that’s what it looks like.

Jean Depara, L’Apollon, série Day in Kinshasa, 1955-1965. © Jean Depara/Revue Noire.
Jean Depara, L’Apollon, série Day in Kinshasa, 1955-1965. © Jean Depara/Revue Noire.

Between the 1950s and 1960s, modernity bursts in to the Congo, destabilising the concerns of white or black. Multiculturalism expands and Africans from all nations come to Kinshasa. Besides Depara himself is Angolan. The country is still under Belgian domination, but it is opening to the world and above all to independence, as is shown by the daily habits of the population. The American way of life is becoming accessible if not to everyone, to the majority.
Coins, however, always have two sides. The times of bloody repression in Katanga, corruption and nepotism embodied by Mobutu and the consequences of becoming independent are still far off. However, as an independent state, the Congo is set to become a chess piece inside an international arena that sees the Cold War directly or indirectly also involving African countries subjects to the game influenced by the United States and the Soviet Union.

The setting of the exhibition Les nuits et les jours de Kinshasa, 1951-1975 in rue Saint Vincent at La Gacilly for the Festival Photo La Gacilly 2017. © FPmag.
The setting of the exhibition Les nuits et les jours de Kinshasa, 1951-1975 in rue Saint Vincent at La Gacilly for the Festival Photo La Gacilly 2017. © FPmag.

But there is still time for all this, and the black and white film realised by Jean Depara tells us of a transient phase with all its elation for the retrieval of an independence denied by colonialism until that moment. So the images follow in a swirling of dances, evenings in the most prestigious clubs in Kinshasa, women in light clothes and cars. A recklessness that hovers over everything, makes Depara's black and white shimmer, which is entrusted with a load of historical memories of everyday life that today we can now enjoy with the curiosity of those who have the memory of that story which at the time of the filming was still in the future.

The setting of the exhibition Les nuits et les jours de Kinshasa, 1951-1975 in rue Saint Vincent at La Gacilly for the Festival Photo La Gacilly 2017. © FPmag.
The setting of the exhibition Les nuits et les jours de Kinshasa, 1951-1975 in rue Saint Vincent at La Gacilly for the Festival Photo La Gacilly 2017. © FPmag.

All in all, the exhibition lives above all for the curatorial operation that offers it to the general public more for the documentary value than the objective quality of the images. In my view, its strength resides in its capacity to convey to the contemporary spectator the flavour of an era of transition important in the economy of African history. Depara's photographic work is in fact an extraordinary testimony beyond those aspects that the western spectator might see blurring the boundaries that separate professional photography from that of vernacular. [ Sandro Iovine ]

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LES NUITS ET LE JOURS DE KINSHASA, 1951-1975
by Jean Depara
rue Saint Vincent - La Gacilly (France)
3 June – 30 September 2017
entrance fee: free entry


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[ INTERNAL RESOURCES ]
[ FPtag ] Festival Photo La Gacilly 2017: the editorial staff point of view
[ FPtag ] Festival Photo La Gacilly 2016: the editorial staff point of view
[ events ] Festival Photo La Gacilly 2017
[ events ] Festival Photo La Gacilly 2015

[ EXTERNAL RESOURCES ]
Jean Depara
Festival Photo La Gacilly

Friuli Venezia Giulia Fotografia 2017

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published on 2017-06-04 in NEWS / EXHIBITIONS

LAGACILLY LAGACILLY2017 Africa Congo JeanDepara SandroIovine






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