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A round trip dream. The Congolese SAPE

Casa África will house this exhibit of 81 photographs taken by Héctor Mediavilla (Spain) and Baudouin Mouanda (Congo Brazzaville) that takes us to the world of the Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes (S.A.P.E. or Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People). An unknown and extravagant reality that shows us another side of the African continent.

A Congolese man wearing a red dinner jacket surrounded by poverty? Lustrous shoes for walking on rubble, dirt and rubbish?

This is elegance as a religion. A cult based on image and appearance that has an entire code of conduct associated to it. This is the Congolese SAPE, and it´s shown to us through the photographs of this exhibit commissioned by Sandra Maunac and Mónica Santos.

A Sapeur is, above all, a gentleman and a pacifist. Therefore, the SAPE is shaped as a lifestyle through which new references and new codes of conduct are built, based on non-violence, hygiene, self respect, and knowing how to live.

It may be considered immoral and lacking in solidarity for these individuals to be concerned with obtaining luxury brands instead of a good job so as to support their families, their country, etc.  But who built the framework of this morality?  Who establishes and sets the access to these products, when our own consumption systems are what distribute and export this great dream to every part of the planet?

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