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If asked, photographer and filmmaker Guillaume Bonn’s answer as to why he does what he does is disarmingly simple: ‘I am just a storyteller.’
However, while we all, in some way or another, tell stories, the type Bonn is compelled to tell is the kind ‘the world,’ as he says, ‘is turning away from’ - be that helping break the Darfur crises in the New York Times, exposing the sexual abuse suffered by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the hands of UN peace keepers, or risking his life to uncover the machinations of Africa’s trade in ivory. Be they urgent or quiet, Guillaume Bonn tells stories the world is afraid to hear. They pose real questions and as such demand real answers.
Crucially, Bonn’s work - be it photographing a royal wedding in Jodhpur, a Je suis Charlie piece of graffiti, a people devastated by the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or a Parisian catwalk model – is informed, moulded and inspired by his relationship with Africa. As well as the place of his childhood, and therefore of all his past dreams, his memories and his forgetting, it is where he has gained and lost everything, the beauty and ugliness of the Africa he has known reflected in a life that has seen the world for what it truly is. Bonn loves this Africa, urgently, thoughtfully, and unflinchingly. It sits in or behind or in front of every photograph he takes, images of unrelenting care, of the human and its environment, of a life demanding immediate change.
He lives in Paris, London and Nairobi, and is currently working on two books, one with The New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson.
Memo Paris contributor