Patrick Willocq is an internationally acclaimed French artist and visual storyteller. He has been called both a humanist and a "visionary between cultures”. 14 years ago, he returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to reconnect with memories of his childhood, where his father had worked internationally.
While travelling the DRC to work on a photographic project, Patrick stumbled upon the culture of the Ekonda people, living in remote equatorial rainforests. There, he became fascinated with ancient empowerment rituals involving first-time indigenous mothers called “Walés”, covered with striking red pigment.
During lengthy visits over several years, Willocq eventually developed a photographic project in close collaboration with his new friends the Walés. By staging visual tableaux of their personal experience as mothers in ritual seclusion, he developed his African brand of magic realism, encompassing photography, video, music, dance and drawing.
Thus was born the award-winning and widely exhibited mythological tale “Songs of the Walés”, as well as the book of the same title, published by Kehrer Verlag in Germany.
Willocq collaborated with film director Florent de La Tullaye, on a 52-minute documentary film, "Le Chant des Walés", documenting his work with the Walés. The film was broadcast on the television channel France 5 with a preview at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris.
In his current work “WALÉWOOD: A Rebellious Lot of Young Mothers” Willocq further explores the lives of the young Walés with humor, heart and visual eloquence. He captures the women’s natural dignity and humanity and delves further into their ambiguities and personal conflicts. In the process, Willocq discovers their wider concept of beauty and femininity, which reflects on their power and freedom in a modern, post-colonial world.
Willocq’s life has led him outside of his native France for 40 years and he now makes his home in The Hague, in the Netherlands.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Patrick Willocq has been nominated for or chosen as a finalist or winner of multiple prestigious international awards, including SFR Jeunes Talents de Paris Photo, Prix Découverte des Rencontres d’Arles, Prix Coup de Coeur HSBC pour la Photographie, Sony World Photography Awards, Leica Oskar Barnack Award and Prix Pictet.