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Sorcerers of the ringColin Delfosse
Un mot sur l'oeuvre
( REF : CDEL003)
In Kinshasa people have been passionate about wrestling since the 60s and 70s. The boundless imagination of the Kinois has transformed this technical, combat sport into a match between witch doctors. Talismans become vital in beating opponents… Nothing is too over the top in a bid to impress spectators and opponents. The shows are held in the evenings when the heat has died down. The fighters parade, drawing crowds who follow them from all the surrounding streets. Some outdoor shows attract up to two thousand people. There are two kinds of wrestler. The traditional wrestler, who is fairly similar to his western counterpart, and the witch doctor wrestler. As mystical training is easier and, more importantly, less painful than physical training, there are many more of the latter. As is customary, the wrestlers stick to the script. The shouts, the low blows, the cracking of bone or cartilage, are all scripted. Sometimes it gets slightly out of control, and becomes bad taste. The spectators love it.
25th September 2009, « City train » lies low in the ring while « Force 5 » swoops down on him.
Le témoignage de Colin Delfosse
Between 2007 and 2010, I made several trips, primarily to take documentary photographs of the world of Congolese wrestlers and then produce an extensive series of portraits of the stars of this sport.
Nothing was easy. Since the Mobutu regime, the Congolese have had quite a tense relationship with photography. They don’t like it because during his rule they thought all photographers were spies. I had to prove my involvement, in order to work on the project and gain access to this world, by returning again and again. In the end the wrestlers let me work even though some of them asked me for money. There were some tense moments. The matches are held in the outskirts of the city, in places that even some Kinois won’t go to. One evening I was followed by some «shégués», street kids. They went through my pockets, shoved me around a bit, I even lost my glasses but it could have been much worse.
But what remains is that this project changed my perception of Kinshasa, made me love this city that I had at first found just noisy and stressful. It was through this prism that I got a glimpse of and understood this country and its philosophy of living day to day, and always with a sense of humour.
Le choix de Jean-Denis
This is a fairly classic wrestling move, the third rope jump made fashionable again by Mickey Rourke in «The Wrestler». The low angle shot adds to the highly spectacular effect. I see a kind of insect jumping on its prey. The shot taken level with the ring, Neil Leifer style, the sky, the light of the setting sun…. Well anyway, I just love it.