Phantoms of the Congo River

Atelier I-labo, Paris, France
16 Feb 2015

Phantoms of the Congo River

Vus d’Afrique invites to the launch party of photographer Nyaba L. Ouedraogo new book “The Phantom of Congo River”.

In Phantoms of the Congo River, Nyaba L. Ouedraogo offers a new dimension to his approach to photography.

The Phantoms of the Congo River is inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness”. This series shows a new facet of the esthetic research taken up by the photographer since 2011. As the setting for these new works he has chosen the riverbanks of Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo.

With The Phantoms of the Congo River, Nyaba L. Ouedraogo adopts a different photographic posture. Through this series he intends to get back in touch with his own spirituality. Here lies the future of each individual and his own beliefs or hopes. This photographic narrative expresses rather than describes a reality. The photographer develops a language of ritual and of the mystical to evoke the unknown and to see the strange.

The use of light by the artist for a careful orchestration amplifies even more the feeling of an artistic study of unknown, sometimes vague spaces, but which are very much alive. Leaving pathos aside, Nyaba L. Ouedraogo leads us towards horizons where our sense of time is tested. In one image we can see a glimmer of hope on a face. In another a pile of ruins that hints at the desolation of an urban landscape. Ultimately, it is the world we are looking at through these images. There is the dynamism of this series; the images cause each viewer to question his own condition and his own reality. These images invite us to navigate this river imprinted with humanity, just as the photographer went back down the Congo.

The work is structured on oppositions such as violence and peace, shadows and light, clarity or blurriness, as if the photographer meant to find himself anew in a world where any tension should be forgotten in favor of coming together. The unknown body that the photographer speaks of may seem distant, but it is with this similarity that we cohabit.

From this art book we are struck first and foremost by the photographic intensity and the uniqueness of the subject treated by the artist.

The publisher
Vus d’Afrique


The book signing will be held on February 16,2015 at Atelier I-labo
From 6:30pm to 9pm, 192, rue Saint Maur, 75010 Paris



Photography by: Nyaba L. Ouedraogo
Éditions Vus d’Afrique.
Preface: Simon Njami
Contributors include: John Fleetwood, Michket Krifa and Yves Chatap French / English

Collector’s Edition: original print signed and numbered by the artist. Only 50 ex. Format of the limited print 22X20 8.66X7.87 inch, baryta paper fineArt, 325mg. Technical Characteristic of the book:
Hardcover, 170 gsm garda mat paper, 10.23 x 9.05 inch, 116 pages, 90 color ills. Print in 500 exemplaryes in 2015

ISBN: 978 2 9542745 1 5
PRICE: The book : 60€. Collector’s edition : 150 €



Born in 1978 in Burkina Faso, Nyaba L. Ouedraogo’s approach to photography is as much documentary as it is esthetic research. In 2008, he undertook “The Hell of Copper” (L’enfer du cuivre), a reflection on electronic waste products and their consequences. Other series were to follow, such as “The Granite and Sand Breakers in Burkina Faso” (2010-2011) and “Human Error” (2011). These works are marked by a desire to provide a narrative on African societies and their multiple incarnations. Between 2011 and 2013, he veers away from the documentary form and sets out on a quest for a new photographic poetry. Out of this comes “The Phantoms of the Congo River”, an esthetic study on the ambiguity of the representation of the “real”. This series was the subject of several exhibits in France and other countries. In 2014, he completed “The Soul Devourers” in Burkina Faso, a series of diptych photographs that depict the ambiguity of representation, particularly of women accused of sorcery. Nyaba has received several prizes, including one from the European Union at the 9èmes Rencontres de la photographie de Bamako (“The Ninth Bamako Meeting of Photography”). He was also a finalist for the Prix Pictet in 2010 and winner of the Résidences Photoquai in 2013. Nyaba L. Ouedraogo regularly collaborates with Jeune Afrique Magazine (“Young Africa Magazine”). His work has been published in numerous review and magazines including the The Guardian and Connaissances des arts. His works are also exhibited in different museums and private collections. Nyaba L. Ouedraogo is a co-founder of the “Topics Visual Arts Platform” collective, a laboratory for reflection and cooperation of artists in the domain of photography. He is represented by the Voz Gallery in Paris.



The Editions Vus d’Afrique were created in 2010 by the Vus d’Afrique Association. This platform dedicated to photography put in place new gateways into contemporary African art, particularly through the numerous initiatives that it is developing. The initiation of a publishing arm first appeared with the production of Boxing Athenas, a work about female boxing by the photographer N’Krumah Lawson Daku. The Editions Vus d’Afrique concentrate on the discovery of different approaches to contemporary photography. With its willingness to encourage vitality and creativity today, the catalog is reserved for contemporary works and photographic research. The choice to publish few titles arises from the objective of working closely with our authors in their creative activity over the whole duration because our publications are works that one returns to and with which one lives. The editions encourage new relationships between the editor and the author since Vus d’Afrique accompanies the author throughout the conception of his publication project. The editions encourage the production of books produced in partnership with each author in order to obtain an object that fits with the whole oeuvre of the artist. Vus d’Afrique participates in numerous cultural events together with its authors in order to promote their collections of photographic works. The Editions Vus d’Afrique is also active in organizing projects such as exhibitions or conversations with the artists in institutions and art galleries. All of these events also present occasions for the collections of the artists to come alive.
VUS D’AFRIQUE/ Les Editions
17/19 rue Saint Just
93210 La Plaine



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