Jean Christophe Lanquetin
born 1963 in France,
lives and works in Paris.
Artist, set designer. Since 1994, Lanquetin has lectured at the Ecole Superieure des Arts Decoratifs in Strasbourg. Co-founder (along with Francois Duconseille) of the French collective ScU2. Combining the activity in the field of visual arts and the theatre, the artist creatively investigates the society of the spectacle and the politics related to the body.
The project was carried out in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been visited frequently by Lanquetin since 2001. The artist documents and investigates at the same time the phenomenon of sape (from French “clothes, gear”), that is the strong attachment of the country’s young people to fashion. Lanquetin calls it an “obsession with elegance”, a phenomenon difficult to understand in a country that struggles with economic difficulties.
Lanquetin’s photographs transcend the convention of street fashion photos, well known from Western blogs and lifestyle magazines. Sapeurs are often ready to make sacrifices in order to be able to buy expensive fashionable clothes. In the presented series, they pose for photographs against the background of the city that they despise (they call it “dirty”), sporting expensive brand labels. The sape phenomenon does not only concern clothing, it is a separate economy, larded with meanings, which involves buying, exchanging, smuggling and counterfeiting things, an economy that reflects the political, social and emotional aspects of life in Congo.