Patrick Willocq is a French self-taught photographer based between Hong Kong and Kinshasa. He has lived 34 years outside France, including 7 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 2012, and following a trip back to the Congo, Patrick decides to devote himself entirely to photography (he was working for multinationals in Asia Pacific for over 20 years). Through his work he wants to offer a different image of the Congo and Africa in general, and go beyond images of war which media tend to focus on.
His series “On the road from Bikoro to Bokonda, DR Congo” won the 2012 AFD best photo project Award and exhibited in over 10 international festivals including Paris Photo 2012 (Finalist SFR Competition) and Photo Off (Paris) 2013. With “I am Walé Respect Me” and “Forever Walé”, respectively produced in 2013 and 2014, a series about an initiation ritual among Ekonda pygmies, Patrick Willocq has been selected to form part of the British Journal of Photography «the Ones to watch in 2014». He is a finalist of the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2013, finalist of Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2014 and Renaissance Photography Prize 2014, Winner of La Bourse du Talent Portrait 2014, POPCAP 14 and nominated to the prestigious Arles Discovery Award 2014. Patrick has recently been awarded the GrandprixFotofestiwal 2015 Łódź in Poland.
Through this project the photographer wants to transform today’s reality to help understand the beauty and difficulty of secluded first time pygmy mothers in Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a visual projection of what the Ekonda Walé motherhood ritual could become as it continues to resist and embrace pressure of modern life. Democratic Republic of Congo in 2050. The country has peacefully developed in a sustainable way, including remote villages.
Deep in Ekonda territory, the walé initiation ritual has modernized yet preserved its authenticity. With the ultimate power to give birth, first time mothers have always been celebrated supermums. Today Pygmies regard them as superwalés, having embraced and appropriated the now globally pervasive superhero culture. Highly respected by society, superwalés are more than ever honored as queens. But despite all of their prestige and powers, they still experience seclusion very differently.