Congo Reportraits

Mobikisi centre, Kinshasa, 2006. The primary school and the orphanage for sorcerer children are supported by Pangea Foundation.
Mobikisi centre, primary school, Kinshasa, 2006. Children in punishment. ”Ça c’est la discipline!” their teacher said.
Balungidi Plamedi (God's plan) and Emérite Makita, ndoki (sorcerers). Mobikisi centre, Kinshasa, 2006. Ndoki are accused of being the cause of everything wrong. They are tortured in order to through the evil spirits out of them.The more they suffer, the better.
Lufulu Espérance, ndoki, accused of sorcery in Mobikisi centre, 2006. After having been tortured by her father, Espérance lived for a period in Mobikisi centre in Kinshasa. Her father brought her back home, where he killed her.
Dianzenza Jonathan, ndoki, in Mobikisi centre, Kinshasa, 2006. Before being abandoned, both Jonathan and his borther were accused of being the cause of their mother's folly and of planning their father's death.
Kinshasa, camp Mikonga 2, 2006. Since 1999, more then 2000 refugees coming mostly from Equateur live crammed in big pigsties. "More than 4 millions casualties of war since 1998. Everyday 1.200 persons die for causes directly or indirectly tied to the conflict. Half of them are children" (UNICEF report, 2006).
Kinshasa, camp Mikonga 2, 2006.
Kinshasa, camp Mikonga 2, 2006.
Kinshasa, camp Mikonga 2, 2006.
Kinshasa, camp Mikonga 2, 2006.
Kinshasa, camp Mikonga 2, 2006.
Kinshasa, Princess in Ceradef women refugee centre, 2006. The centre has been founded by Deborah, the only woman taxy driver in Kinshasa
Tailoring course of Congolese Esengo (Joy) Foundation, supported by Pangea Foundation. Kinbanseke, Kinshasa, 2006.
Tailoring course of Congolese Esengo (Joy) Foundation, supported by Pangea Foundation. Kinbanseke, Kinshasa, 2006.
Tailoring course of Congolese Esengo (Joy) Foundation, supported by Pangea Foundation. Kinbanseke, Kinshasa, 2006.
Boyokani health centre, Kinbanseke, Kinshasa, 2006. A woman sick with AIDS. In the Democratic Republic of Congo AIDS is mostly a consequence of rapes. The rape is a weapon of war. WHO esteemed 25.000 women were raped in 2004 in South Kivu , but the real  number of  rapes is much bigger, for many women do not denounce their abuse.
Boyokani health centre, Kinbanseke, Kinshasa, 2006. A woman sick with AIDS.
North Kivu, Goma, 2006. The child is sick with malaria.
Kinbanseke, Kinshasa, 2006. A blind centre, one of the many centres waiting for international help. Meantime, Maman Chantal married Lutonadio, blind, and from their marriage Merveille was born.
Kinbanseke, Kinshasa, a bread warehouse, 2006.  Since the great pillages of the Nineties, when all factories, infrastructures and services have been ransacked by the army and the people, men are mostly unemployed. So, women organized themselves in order to support their families.
North Kivu, Goma, 2006. A labourer.
North Kivu, Goma, 2006. A labourer.
North Kivu, Goma, 2006. Labourers.
Refugee camp, Green Lake Pygmies. North Kivu, Goma, 2006. Pygmy women are regularly raped to obtain ethnical cleaning, and there have been many cases of cannibalism against men: all this happens in order to exploit the Ituri forest’s wealth. Actually, besides the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world - more than 1.000 human beings die every day from rape, executions, abuses of every kind, and from epidemic diseases caught in the refugee camps - in the Ituri region the tragedy of the slow genocide of Pygmies is taking place.
Refugee camp, Green Lake Pygmies. North Kivu, Goma, 2006.
Refugee camp, Green Lake Pygmies. North Kivu, Goma, 2006. 80% of the population of the Democratic Republic of Congo lives on 25 cents (USD) and 1200 calories per day. This is the paradox of a country that abounds in fabulous wealth: diamonds, gold, coltan (used for mobile phones and computers), copper, coffee, valuable wood, cobalt, oil... But all the evil of the world has put itself between the wealth of the country and the people that live in it. And it is easy to see who has won.

 

CONGO REPORTRAITS

 

The first showing of this exhibition has been organised in 2007 in Rome, Centrale Montermatini/Musei Capitolini by the “Fondazione Pangea Onlus” (Pangea Non-Profit Foundation) and curated by Manuela Fugenzi. Visitors proceed along a gallery of portraits where they are invited to study Salvinelli's in-depth reportage. The use of portraits for this kind of photojournalism means recording the emotions of lives often marked by profound worries and pain, while at the same time narrating the imperative nature of the impulse for life. The reportraits taken in the Congo by Laura Salvinelli are images that comment on the human presences of a place whose tragic history renders us speechless.

Salvinelli's work contains clear references to the events of the Democratic Republic of Congo, torn by civil war and political corruption: here is a country in constant crisis where still today thousands of refugees are victims of hunger and abuse.  
In these images the footprints of war appear to remain on the photographic surface; they are observable among the faces and expressions, between the light and shade of the black and white of the eyes, skin and clothes.
The high aesthetic value of these portraits is accompanied by a portrayal of inconceivable and intolerably cruel territories, of lives marred by horror: art reveals, meditates and consoles the injured.
Laura Salvinelli aims to document a reality she has witnessed, despite the restraints and prohibitions imposed by local authorities, energetically expressing her powerful photographic sensibility. It is a sensibility that cares for, pays attention to, and respects beauty and human dignity.
The art of the portrait moves the heartstrings of compassion and dedication to the individual. The tragedies referred to in Salvinelli's work are those of children abandoned and accused of witchcraft, refugee camps teeming with people from the warring areas of Kivu and Ituri, of female AIDS sufferers.
The focus is also on the "new beginnings" of young poor women and single mothers in Kimbanseke, a suburb of Kinshasa where they are supported in their journey towards economic and social well being by the Makita project of the Pangea Non-Profit Foundation. For many years now, Pangea has been engaged in promoting development projects for women, including: micro credit and literary programmes, professional courses and training in hygiene and medicine, as well as on human rights and gender issues.
In the same spirit of Lewis Hine's committed photography of one century ago depicting child labour and immigrants in America, the portraits in the Centrale Montemartini in Rome, which focus on the latest global emergencies, are accompanied by the personal histories that photography has captured with Salvinelli's extraordinary journalistic sensitivity.  
                                                                                                                                                     

Manuela Fugenzi