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. In 2016 he was named one of PDN’s “30 under 30” Emerging Photographers to watch. Since then his work has appeared in The Guardian UK, CNN, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, the Washington Post, The British Journal of Photography, Vice Magazine and GUP Magazine, among other publications. He joined NOOR in 2017 as nominee and received the 2017 Visura Grant for Outstanding Personal Project to continue his long-term project in Congo DR. His work is held in the permanent collection of The Sindika Dokolo foundation as well as other private collections. Léonard Pongo is a frequent lecturer on photography and conducts photographic workshops. He is currently based between Belgium and The Democratic Republic of Congo.
AWARDS | Recognitions
Popcap Winner 2014