Léonard Pongo (Belgium, 1988) is a documentary photographer working on daily life stories in Subsaharan Africa. In 2011, he started working in Congo DR documenting life in the cities of Kinshasa and Kananga during the country's second democratic elections since independence.
In 2013 he returned to Congo's mining city of Lubumbashi to continue his work, collaborating with local TV news to create a personal vision of the country based on the small-scale events that rhythm the local life.
In 2014, he won the CAP prize for Africa for his project in DRC "The Uncanny" and exhibited his work in Basel, Vienna, Addis Ababa, Dublin, Lagos, Cape Town, and Mindelo. In 2015 he was exhibited in the Netherlands at Noorderlicht photofestival, and in 2016 he received the Belgian 'Vocatio' Grant for his work in Congo.
His short movie "The Necessary Evil" was displayed in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome, in the "nuits de la photo" in Arles, at "Les nuits photographiques" in Paris and during Angkor Photo festival in Cambodia.
Since 2015 Léonard has been tutoring workshops at Obscura Festival in Malaysia. He is specialised in long-term, in-depth projects where he creates work that comments on the experience of living in the country where he stays for extended periods of time, up to three months.
With his photography projects he wants to question the usual narrative about Africa, while offering a personal and subjective way of connecting to its inhabitants, cultures and manifold realities.
By presenting a different vision of Africa, motivated by a need to connect, rather than to explain African societies, Léonard's hope is to challenge our usual conceptions and stereotypes of Africa, while moving the narration of the continent away from the crises and closer to the people's daily realities. Léonard Pongo is a frequent lecturer on photography and conducts photographic workshops.
He is currently based between Belgium and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
"The Uncanny" in an experience of daily life in several neighbourhoods of Cong DR's main cities. It is carried out by photographing families, local TV, political figures and church leaders and followers.
This work shows a different side to the Congolese story: one of people living in the country's urban neighbourhoods, far from the catastrophes and faced with different challenges.
Instead of focusing on the country's infamous crises and con- flicts, it questions the country's existence avray from the episodic flash points of war and the conflicts brought up by experiencing this reality.