Stephan Gladieu Documents Congolese Folk-Art Movement in the Face of Unchecked Consumerism and Waste
Stephan Gladieu is a French photographer whose artistic work is embedded with a great narrative power, which gives each of its images a real augmented reality on the boarders of spirituality. He focuses mainly on his personal and artistic work through portrait series whose DNA is the colour and rigorous composition. Gladieu specializes in covering war and social issues, travelling throughout Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East.
One of his most recent work is the documentation of; A generation of Congolese street children and artists who used garbage masks and costumes to protest against their country's ecological issues. Gladieu brings Congo to limelight with the term "Homo Detritus". He statesthat “The Democratic Republic of Congo is a geological scandal.”
The Democratic Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Kinshasa is the second-largest country of the 54 states that make up the African continent and has one of the richest sub-soils in the world, containing gold, coltan, diamonds, cobalt, oil and more. Yet it remains the 8th poorest country on our planet. However, Mobile phones, plastic, lids, synthetic foam, tyre tubes, textiles, electric wires, syringes, cardboard, capsules, car parts, cans, and a variety of other items abound in the capital's shantytowns.
Gladieu introduces us to a group of artists created six years ago by visual artist Eddy Ekete in this series of portraits. These painters, singers, and musicians have teamed together to bring attention to the horror of their daily lives, the ensuing wars, the exploitation of women and men, and the poverty that robs them of all dignity.
In essence, Gladieu expresses how the group of artists welcomed him for the project as he chose to shoot their portraits in the streets of Kinshasa, with settings and characters that form a dialogue.
A clan of Homo Detritus, fantastically grotesque characters who are terribly evocative of a modern affliction: the vanity of excessive consumption. To put in practical the pressing issue, these creatives used waste as their raw material, they put together outfits and masks inspired by African tradition to condemn the ongoing ecological disaster being inflicted on the DRC(Democratic Republic of Congo).