By Marita van Rooyen
All Photographs Floriane de Lassée and Nicolas Henry
“In Namibia I felt like the people were peacefully passing the time from ancestral Africa to modernity, all the while expressing the strength of their communities and the evolution of their traditions… These days, Africa’s population is fully aware of the value of the artistic and cultural heritage that it carries.”
Nicolas Henry, photographer
Click on Photo’s to see slideshow:
During the dry months of the southern hemisphere’s winter season, French photographers Nicolas Henry and Floriane de Lassée embarked on a photographic journey through Africa – including three weeks in Namibia – hoping to capture a side of the continent that the world hadn’t seen before.
“When I set off to spend four months in Africa, I didn’t know where exactly I was going, but I was certain of one thing: I had knowingly chosen to strike out for places that were the exact opposite of what I had known during the seven years I spent shooting Inside Views, a solitary, contemporary, and feminine journey through the world’s major capitals. But, as I progressed on my journey, I sought to show a different vision of Africa, suffused by that same feeling of solitude that I thought was only possible in the sprawling metropolises of the northern hemisphere,” explains Floriane.
Nicolas on the other hand, focused on giving Africa a contemporary voice by depicting topics such as beliefs, ecology, colonisation, population explosion, educational needs, and the denunciation of corruption. “My works opens a window to express speech and goes beyond the usual clichés of suffering and pain.”
“Namibia is very much a modern country. What makes it so special is that development goes hand in hand with a deep love and respect for nature, and that made it a pleasure to shoot there. The photographic scenes came together naturally, through something that seemed to hover in the air, waiting to be grasped, apprehended, as if a great melancholy had overtaken these individuals for the space of an instant, or maybe even a lifetime. My photography and art is aimed at telling stories and sharing traditions – especially those of women; documenting the lives of people from all over the world and exporting them to other places,” says Floriane.
Nicolas’s photographic scenes are like special construction sites, made up of objects that are of value to his subject. He works with community members to set up a visual reality and so evoke a certain narrative. “My creations are like a travelling theatre,” he says. “I learn the local poetry by taking part in the daily lives of communities, observe the natural actors, and the emerging scenes of their lives.”
Floriane and Nicolas succeeded in turning Africa into a magical, faraway planet, filled with mysticism and unique traditions intertwined with the inevitable modern aspect.
In Namibia – their last African stop – the photographers spent most of their time with the people of the Damara Living Museum near Twyfelfontein, a small group of Himbas near Kamanjab, and with the Hereros near Outjo and in Windhoek.
Nicolas is exhibiting Namibia at the European Month of Photography in Paris. The exhibition can be viewed at the St Merri Church, in front of the Pompidou Centre, which houses France’s National Museum of Modern Art, from 1 November to 15 December.
Both Floriane and Nicolas will be exhibiting their African works at the Open Studio in Marnes La Coquette, France from 1 to 15 December.
See more of their works here:
This story appeared in the November 2013 edition of Flamingo magazine.
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