Robert Nzaou-Kissolo,is a Congolese photographer who lives between Cape Town in South Africa and Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo. He has been photographing for the last 3 years using cameras borrowed from friends.
The Salon de coiffure(French for hair salon) project is one of a variety of ongoing projects centered around daily life on the streets of Pointe Noire which Robert started in early 2014.
Robert left Congo as a student refugee at the end of 2001 during the civil war there and after living in SA for more than 10 years, he finally got the opportunity to go back home.
Arriving back was daunting, exciting and illuminating. He fell in love with the many small contradictions found in everyday life, among this was the beauty of the people and the cultural ideal of beauty shown in the media and on advertising billboards.
There are hand-painted advertising boards on the side of the road advertising Hair Salons everywhere in the city, he couldn’t stop admiring the talent of the artists who paint the boards and walls, yet he noticed that what they were depicting was strongly focused on fake hair, light skin and other features which did not reflect the real people.
After 2 weeks of being in Pointe Noire it became clear to Robert that he wanted to dig deeper into the psychology behind this phenomena, to process my his feelings via his lens.
Robert walked long distances through the heat and humidity daily to cover almost the whole city. The Congolese people can be camera shy (and the state is still suspicious of anyone who may be a journalist) and as street photography is a fairly new genre in Congo there were a few times he had to get myself out of some uncomfortable situations. These challenges caused Robert to master the “shooting from the hip” technique so every photo in this project is candid and shot from the hip.
“I’m inspired by documenting and translating a culture and place via my pictures, telling stories from the perspective of that frame on that day. Pointe Noire is a city in transition and I look forward to the privilege of telling a part of its story for the years to come.”