Bio: Francois Vaxelaire

I’m Belgian born, Chinatown based, sociology formed.

I see the New School Media Studies program as a way to put into practice all the sociological “knowledge” I have acquired.

The “Heavy Loads” project I have been working on last year is I believe a good example of the type of work I’m trying to achieve.

It’s a threefold project:

1) First part is composed of 70+ portraits of carrier women of East DR Congo region.

2) When producing those portraits we learned that 4 months later the “World March for Women” would finish there world tour in Bukavu, the region where the picture where taken, for a week long event. The result of the portraits and the involvement of the women was so great that we decided to make a partnership with a local NGO, “L’Observatoire de la parité”, and to conduct an awareness campaign during the event. The idea was to showcase the portraits along Bukavu’s main streets. The carrier women are the porrest of the poor, women that nobody even looks at. But they are literally thousands along all the roads, carrying commodities to and from the local markets all across the region. They are litteraly carrying the economy on their back. We though that to make portraits of them and to showcase them in real sized print in the main city will force people to see a day to day reality in another angle.

3) Before the march, we went back to the local markets where the portraits were taken and gave every women their portrait.

Since then the local NGO has made the portraits travel in Senegal for the World Social Forum, in DRC capital Kinshasa and more recently in 5 different Belgian cities.

The portraits have won the 2011 New York Photo Festival “Best Social Documentary Essay” in the student category!

The project was made possible by a succesful Kickstarter campaign.

I particularly like this project because of it’s simplicity and it’s efficiency.

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3 Comments on “Bio: Francois Vaxelaire”

  1. January 31, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    wow Francois this is an amazing project – sorry not an academic response, but I was stunned when I just browsed to see your bio. I’d love to have you present the whole process and social reactions in one of the class sessions.

    • January 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      Thanks for the comment Nitin!

      I would love to speak about this project. Anytime!

  2. May 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

    I just had a look at this project after yesterday’s presentation. I agree with Nitin – and I also think you need to draw in this approach to work for your ‘Speaker’s Corner’ project. Get in touch as there is a project at Northwestern University that I am working on which includes different types of testimony for human rights violations that you might want to contribute to. I think I also understand your Speaker’s Corner project more by having looked at this. best wishes, Miriam Aziz

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