Having grown up in the Democratic Replublic of the Congo, photographer Patrick Willocq works to depict the country he loves in a way that provides the viewer with an intimate glimpse into the tribal traditions that are still being practices in DR Congo. In his series “I am Walé Respect Me”, Willocq creates a visual narrative describing the stories of multiple Walés (primiparous nursing mothers). “I've always been fascinated by native tribes because I feel they have a wealth that we have somehow lost. To document this beautiful tribute to motherhood, fertility and femininity, I proposed to some Walés to participate in staged photographs. Each set-up worked as a visual representation of one of the subjects that the Walé would sing about on the day of her release from seclusion. On that day, she sings the story of her own loneliness, and with humor praises her own behavior while discrediting her Walé rivals,” explains Willocq.
text by Canbra Hodsdon