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Michael De Plaen

Michaël De Plaen was born in 1979 in Lubumbashi (R.D.C.) where he lived until 1990 to settle with his family in the Belgian Ardennes. Passionate about drawing, he enrolled at the University of Liège in the Faculty of Science to obtain a degree in biomedical sciences. During his academic career, Michaël was also one of the precursors of university radio, hosted cultural programs, wrote comic book columns for a Luxembourg newspaper, spent his nights as a DJ and participated in the organization of exhibitions (Moebius, Bilal...). With his university degree in hand, Michaël decides to go into photography through a training at the Saint-Luc Institute in Liège. A vocation to which he devotes himself professionally since 2009. His first reports are about lost traditions, urban demography and identity issues. Naturally attracted to art, Michaël gradually specializes in the photographic reproduction of paintings and sculptures without forgetting his interest in social and urban themes. In 2015, he won several awards, including the Belfius Press Prize, for the transmedia documentary "#Salaudesdepauvres" conducted with Instants Production. For the past five years, he has spent much of his time bringing to light the work of Mode Muntu, a painter he met as a child in the Lubumbashi museum. His research across three continents has been recognized by the Fondation Cartier pour les arts contemporains, which asked him to identify and collect Mode Muntu's works for the exhibition "Beauté Congo-1926-2015- Congo Kitoko" and to write an article for the catalog. The monograph presented here is the culmination of only one part of the mission that Michaël De Plaen has taken on: to achieve international recognition of the dynamism and originality of artistic activity in the Congo.

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