I ran across Jean Depara a few months ago while reading a post about him on a blog I read every day, Africa Is A Country. Black and white, gritty prints always catch my eye, and most intriguingly for me: he documented the nightlife and the social life of nightbirds in Kinshasa in the Congo in the 50's and the 60's.
He would frequent the clubs and bars of the city and capture people on film, dancing, embracing, smoking, drinking, crying, basically he became somewhat of a storyteller in pictures of social life in Kinshasa at the time. Such a vibrant and soulful scene - no boundaries, all held together by a love for music and dancing. For some reason I feel like I can hear the music coming directly through the photos, the smiles, the faces. Wonderful captures of moments in time that I hope will never be lost in history. Maybe one day this vibrant social scene can find it's way back into the soul of the Congo. In the meantime I wish I had been able to see the retrospective of his work that was on exhibition in Paris this year.
Jean Depara was known for following the music scene in Kinshasa at the time, he was the Zairian singer Franco's official photographer and he also documented the Miziki associations, and the music that would come out of these associations of women. Jean died in 1997, but he left hundreds of negatives that I would love to take my time scrolling through and admiring.
Jean Degara - Pigozzi artist
Retrospective at the Maison Revue Noire