There is something infectious about this petite yet larger than life, all-around creative who goes by the name of La Furie Photographe (“Fury” in French is a feminine noun albeit it can be used to describe a man or a woman). And it is that moniker that led me to her photography… at first. I then wondered if it was her name that gave her work such a prodigiously vibrant, excitingly disturbing quality. What do the names we inherit, the names we carry, the names we choose say about who we we are and what we create?
Prisca Munkeni Monnier, a journalist and photographer born in Belgium and raised by Congolese parents, comes across as this rare breed of raw honesty and genuine frailty. She is intentionally on edge, fuelled by this inherited and worldly contempt that, with the burning of years, has matured into significant fits of creative outbursts. Her photographic work is a deep, at times painful always necessary exploration of self and others. Gender, identity, emotional (in)stability, vulnerability, harm, and of course utter, raw, sexy rage can be found in the premise, on the surface and at the core. Her photography breathes fire, exhales fire, spits fire with equal potency.
Whether in Suki or in lies and pills (two extraordinary series released in 2018 and 2019), the photographer and creative director confronts timeless pain, individual and collective oppression, forced appropriation with the potentiality of emotional emancipation. Can rage lead to salvation? In exposing our somewhat ugly truths, Prisca attempts at rebuking a universal response to our imagined or lived pain: denial. Freedom always comes at a cost. But to the artist, that must be one’s ultimate destination. To be free. Free from judgment, free from aggression, free from perfection. Even temporarily.
The conclusion of her artist statement for Suki aptly encapsulates it:
“SUKI, like hair in lingala, SUKI because I am from Congo, SUKI as an antidote, an escape. My escape.”
La Furie is of course inhabited and what she so powerfully creates serves as visual testament of what the many who have permeated her cells have left within. She recounts how not being able to find archival material on her forebears upon visiting her grandfather’s village in Congo Kinshasa left her in such anguish that she decided then and there to all-ways capture and document everything that matter.
“Don’t neglect the gold in your own back yard.”
― Ben Okri
Once the fire has dimmed however, Prisca becomes an appeased, almost whimsical woman next door, sister friend, who adores her husband and first born son, who self-cares by repeating to herself that she is “the greatest” every morning, who admits to her constantly redefining gender roles and attributes, whose feminism is as acquired as her deep belief that yearning for equality occults the innate differences amongst gender and would have us believe that our respective powers can be compared and contrasted. The nerve!
Her contagious laughter and lightness with which she tells her many stories are simply enrapturing. No surprise that when she found her “soul twin”, Catia Motia da Cruz, a French, Cape Verdean dancer, art director, publisher and stylist, not only did the creative duo become inseparable but together they founded Blackattitude magazine as well as the creative agency, Agence Klack. Blackattitude (one word) is defined by the pair as an alternative movement, a community anchored in visual storytelling. Avant-garde, edgy, fundamentally punk, the print magazine aims at showcasing their passion for travels and artistic encounters with like-minded creatives whose blackness goes beyond the epidermis. In that, I was reminded of the words of South African architect and photographer, Trevor Makhukhu Molepo which seemed to echo the feminine duo’s philosophy : “Black is not just synonymous of depression and sadness it also represents “strength, might and will.” There isn’t a color that can glow and extinguish all others at the same damn time. From Johannesburg to Kinshasa to Paris, the two women continually re-invent aesthetic and cultural codes with sheer boldness and sass.
And even now at home in Marseille, La Furie continues to produce mighty, urgent, furious work that she has yet to entirely release. And we are here for it, avid to see the fire grow until it engulfs our fears and failings and makes us whole, vulnerable, powerful beings of light… I mean… black.