Kiripi Katembo

Kiripi Katembo

Congolese artist Kiripi Katembo begun his career as a painter before moving to what he is mostly known for, photography and film. In 2008 he created his first film with a mobile phone Voiture en Carton.  The film gained international acclaim. Since then Katembo became the first Congolese filmmaker invited to the Berlinale and has directed two short films including Kinshasa Symphony and Après la mine.

Kiripi Katembo’s artistic journey began with brushes and video reels before embracing photography, particularly using what he termed “these still images,” to articulate his profound connection with his urban milieu, specifically his hometown, Kinshasa. His inaugural photographic series, “Un regard,” was born serendipitously. Faced with the community’s aversion to cameras, Katembo ingeniously turned to the reflective surfaces of water puddles dotting Kinshasa’s streets to capture the essence of its urban tapestry. He reflected, “In those reflections, everything falls into place—people, architecture, landscapes… The water’s mirroring effect circumvented the initial challenge, presenting a surrealistic yet intricately detailed rendition that resonated deeply with the reality of my city.”

By presenting the images in reverse, Katembo magnified the ordinariness of everyday life, transcending it into something profound. He remarked, “In its natural orientation, it’s chaos. But when reversed, it metamorphoses into something affirmative, something beautiful.”

Produced between 2008 and 2013, “Un regard” made its mark in Congo, debuting in Kinshasa and later gracing the Biennale of Lubumbashi. In 2011, Katembo clinched the prestigious Blachère Foundation Prize at the Bamako Photography Meetings, paving the way for exhibitions at esteemed global platforms such as the Venice Biennale and the Berlinale. Notably, his work “Survivre” adorned the poster of the Avignon Festival in 2013, cementing his reputation as a visionary artist capturing the soul of urban existence.

“ I am a writer who writes with a camera.”

“I hold in my hands a tool capable of showing what some refuse to consider as the appalling management of the urban environment,”

“Photography also provides a way of seeing beyond reflection as it opens up a poetic window on another world, the world in which I live.. I want each image to tell of the children born here who have to grow up surrounded by pools of water, and of the families who survive while others leave to live in exile.”