The Uncanny by Belgian-Congolese photographer Léonard Pongo is a visual interpretation of his experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following friends and family in the country, Pongo became immersed in their vision. He let them decide what he should witness as he attempted to understand the place, reconnect with his heritage and reconcile his preconceptions with realities.  
In 2011, Pongo travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to photograph the country’s general election and its impact on society. He soon became aware of his inability to define which stories mattered, and to faithfully report on the overwhelming experience he went through. As his awareness of this increased, he came to terms with the limits of photography to show ‘the truth’ as well as his own limitations in accessing and analysing the environment, bias, and stereotypes. The project evolved into the photographs which form his first book The Uncanny.

‘No image has a title. We dispense with the reference and with any possible language (French, Lingala, English) that might be called upon because there are no routes, no passages. There are no itineraries to be followed that would indicate what to see, and where to look. Wrong questions collapse—questions trying to unmask the origin (Where do you come from?), impose authority (Who the hell are you to…?), or hammer in the nail of guilt (You shouldn’t have…you shouldn’t…look). Because the pictures stubbornly refuse to show. They are not about identity politics, distributing places, or fixing the lines that the eye must follow. The question which seems unavoidable is therefore undermined—that of the point of view’.

— Nadia Yala Kisukidi

The Uncanny was the winner of the ICP GOST First Photobook Award 2020.

The Uncanny
Léonard Pongo

Published by Gostbooks

Order directly from me by email or from Gostbooks

  • ISBN — 978-1-910401-72-9
  • Details — Duotone printed / Gradapat Kiara 150gsm / Hardback / OTA bound with a flat spine
  • Book Size — 165 x 218mm / 192pages / 111 images

    Special Edition available, including:
  • Print Size — 8X10″
  • Edition — 10 each (2 different prints available)