Songs of the Walés.

Photographs and text by Patrick Willocq. Text by Alain Mingram, Azu Nwagbogu, Laurence Butet-Roch and Martin Boilo.
Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany, 2018. In English. 208 pp., 178 illustrations and additional sketches, 6¼xx¾".

Publisher's Description

For the Ekonda pygmies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the most important event in the life of a woman is the birth of her first child. The young mother is called Walé ('nursing mother'). For several years after giving birth, she lives in semi-seclusion, separated from her husband, cared for by other female tribe members and covered daily in red powder made of Ngola wood. When the time comes to reenter society, she puts on a show for the community, translating the lessons learned during seclusion into songs and dances. These celebrations captured the attention of French photographer Patrick Willocq, who, in a unique collaboration with some Walés, their respective clans, an ethnomusicologist, an artist and many artisans of the forest, constructed elaborate and surreal sets, in the middle of the jungle and without any photoshop montage nor collage, inspired by the Ekonda mothers’ chants, and then photographed staged scenes of the women within them.

This book presents the series produced between 2013 and 2015, among them I Am Walé Respect Me and Forever Walé. Through this work Patrick Willocq (b. 1969) takes his images far from the usual hackneyed and clichéd depiction of the Congo (where he grew up) and brings a fresh interpretation of Africa.

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