Kiripi Katembo: Un regard

3 June - 29 July 2023

"For me, photography is about sitting and looking and asking myself if I am making a painting with this photograph.”

From June 3 to July 29, 2023, MAGNIN-A gallery opens its doors to the dreamlike world of Congolese photographer and filmmaker Kiripi Katembo (1979-2015). Kiripi Katembo, who died suddenly at the age of 36, leaves behind a powerful body of work and a sublimated vision of Kinshasa through a unique photographic aesthetic. This exhibition, conceived in partnership with the Kiripi Katembo Siku Foundation, will present for the first time some twenty prints and a video from “Un regard”, the photographer's emblematic series produced between 2008 and 2013. The exhibition will also show “Voiture en carton”, a short film unveiled at the Centre Pompidou in 2008 during the 4th edition of the Pocket Films Festival, a journey to the ground in a working-class neighborhood of Kinshasa.


Capturing the invisible

Born in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kiripi Katembo has dedicated his work to documenting and interpreting the complex reality of the capital through strong images and committed cinematographic works. His work, deeply rooted in the social reality of his city, reveals the challenges faced by the people of Kinshasa. Using art as a means of awareness and mobilization, Kiripi Katembo denounces the inactivity of political leaders in the face of insalubrity and pollution.

As a student at the Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa, Kiripi Katembo began to paint and make videos to reflect his urban environment. “Un regard”, his first photographic series, happened by accident. Confronted with the hostility of the inhabitants in front of the lens, Kiripi Katembo uses the reflections of puddles. "The inhabitants are not at ease when they have a camera in front of them. (...) While fleeing their gaze, I came across the reflections of water that opened a rather surreal window with many details that correspond very well to the reality of my city." Through the reflections of stagnant puddles, he seeks to illustrate another reality than the overly documented one of disorganization and chaos, which are omnipresent. "For me, photography is about sitting and looking and asking myself if I am making a painting with this photograph.” What interests the photographer is the conscious or unconscious urban installation of the population. Thus, landscapes inhabited by shadows and objects take shape, inviting us to imagine stories of this sublimated daily life. The titles of his photographs evoke the concerns, violent and real, of the population of Kinshasa. The raw poetry of "Errer", "Subir", "Tenir" sound like injunctions to the people of Kinshasa from an artist who dedicated his youth and his ideals to promote the culture of his country.

Kiripi Katembo was also a filmmaker, his documentary films testifying to the social and political conditions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With an engaging narrative approach, he used film to give a voice to the people and to provoke thought about the environmental issues they face.

Died prematurely of malaria in 2015, Kiripi Katembo is recognized as one of the most influential Congolese artists of his generation. A unifying force and fervent defender of the Congolese art scene, he founded the Yango Biennial in 2014. This cultural initiative wishes to offer visibility to Congolese artists and becomes a true platform for exchange and dialogue for local and international creators. The Yango Biennial plays a key role in the promotion of contemporary art and in the recognition of emerging talents from the Democratic Republic of Congo.