Francesco Giusti lives and works in Rome, Italy. He recently won 1st Prize in the Viewbook Photostory competition for his documentary series, SAPE. Of this series, he says, ‘In Congo-Brazzaville SAPE is an old passion that has never stopped, not even during war years. At the arrival of the French in Congo at the beginning of 9oo, the myth of elegance was born among young people working for the settlers. In 1922, Andre Grenard Matsoua, well-known for his resistance to the settlers, was the first Congolese to come back from Paris well dressed like a true French “Monsieur”, and greatly admired by all his fellow citizens. Today’s members of the SAPE consider themselves as artists and are respected and admired by the whole community. The members of the SAPE take a touch of glamor into their humble environment with their refined style and faultless clothes. Everyone has his own repertory of gestures, marking him from all the others. Elegance is not the only important character. In fact, a true member of the SAPE is a gentleman and a pacifist. Every weekend the members of the SAPE, with their eccentric and amusing nicknames, gather in bars and fashionable dancing halls and parade in the streets among amused children and the applause of passers-by. These extemporized and spontaneous parades are the expression of a urban culture looking for new reference parameters and codes such as non-violence and elegance. They reflect the wish of young people in particular not to be left apart by society’.
Read more of Francesco Giusti, from Rome