03/03/2011

Elegance as a way of life

'Sapeurs de Bacongo' / Baudouin Mouanda (2009)

'Sapeurs de Bacongo' / Baudouin Mouanda (2009)

Casa África begins its 2011 exhibition season with Un sueño de ida y vuelta. La Sape congolesa (A Round Trip Dream. The Congolese Sape), a collection of eighty images by Baudouin Mouanda (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Héctor Mediavilla (Spain), provides us with a glimpse to the fascinating world of the Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People (S.A.P.E.).

The show, commissioned by Mónica Santos and Sandra Maunac, was presented to the media yesterday at the institution´s headquarters. As in the case of all the collections exhibited in Casa África, Un sueño de ida y vuelta. La Sape congolesa (A Round Trip Dream. The Congolese Sape) may be visited for free from Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 20:00. Free guided visits may also be requested for groups between 15 and 20 people by calling +34-928432800.

Un sueño de ida y vuelta. La Sape congolesa delves into an aesthetic and philosophic movement that is reach in visual and ideological meanings, as shown by the two different perspectives of Mouanda and Mediavilla about this phenomenon. The exhibit, which will remain open to the public in Casa África until April 29th, aims to draw attention to this facet of contemporary African culture that is as unknown as it is extravagant, which simultaneously transports us to a world of elegance and survival from the poverty stricken neighbourhoods of Brazzaville and Kinshasa.

The two photographers who have created this exhibit contrast their visions: one, directly familiar with the situation of his fellow countrymen, presents a dynamic and creative statement about the SAPE, accentuating the phenomenon´s theatrical and exhibitionist aspect. The other, as an external observer, probes the psychological and social complexity of his subjects, evoking a poetic and romantic reality in which sapeurs seem to dream their lives. However, both share a common objective: to question the imaginary world we have built about Africa and its people, since the SAPE puts our prejudices into question.

Mouanda and Mediavilla allow us to better understand the rules and prescriptions of this truly artistic appearance, but above all, they allow us to travel to the dream world of this young urban group from Brazzaville and Kinshasa and to understand that the cult they practice is tied to an implicit message of resistance, a fight for overcoming their social status both within their own community, their country and other African nations, as well as in our fixed and immobile western vision.

 

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