Colin Delfosse (Belgium) – 2021 Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography Winner
On the streets of Kinshasa, local artists are raising awareness of the challenges faced by the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The artists, members of the collectives Ndaku Ya la Vie est Belle and Farata, create costumes out of found materials and perform in the streets. Through their performance, they denounce social, economic and historical issues, including the lack of proper healthcare, pollution, exploitation of natural resources, over-consumption and waste management. Combining performance art with urban culture, their work stimulates dialogue among Kinshasa’s residents, and reembodies the city by creating and representing contemporary myths.
Kinshasa has been at the forefront of globalization since its establishment in the end of the 19th-century under the name Leopoldville, after King Leopold II of Belgium, under whose reign genocide was committed in Congo. After the liberation of the Republic of the Congo from Belgium in 1960, Kinshasa became the center of the country. Two wars and economic and political insecurity led millions of people to immigrate to Kinshasa in the 2000s onward, despite a huge lack of infrastructure and basic utilities such as sewage, electricity, and proper roads. The major demographic increase in the city, the growing needs of its residents, the effects of the global economy, and the export of natural resources along with an incessant appetite for the consumption of plastic products, have together resulted in massive imports and subsequent environmental destruction. The consequences are alarming: 15 million inhabitants produce about 7,000 tons of waste per day.
Fulu Act, photographed by Colin Delfosse in 2019-2020, sheds light on the social and ecological ramifications of hundreds of thousands of discarded objects throughout the city. The local artists seek to communicate the existing environmental situation (Fulu in Lingala, the local language, means waste), as well as reflect the economic-political situation in their country. In this project, Delfos produces alternative photographic narratives to inspire dialogue among the city’s residents, with the intention of influencing and changing the existing complex reality.