Tales of Us

About Tales of Us

Tales of Us - Congo Tales

Tales Of Us is an ongoing creative media series that offers a new approach to communicating the urgency of protecting the world’s most powerful and fragile ecosystems and the people who call them home.

Congo Tales (Random House / Prestel, November 15th, 2018) and the short film The Little Fish and the Crocodile are its first two such projects.

Upturning the traditional conventions of fear-based environmental messaging about conserving areas that have become critical to global environmental health, Tales of Us tells their stories and the stories of the people who live there in a totally new way.

Staging the local mythologies, legends and lore that form the basis of cultures that predate modern civilization by centuries or more in the natural – and ecologically critical — environments from which they sprang, and photographing them using the world’s most celebrated portrait photographers, Tales of Us communicates the magic and mystery of these little understood places in a way that empowers and uplifts, and that reaches people in other parts of the world who may otherwise not hear the message.

Congo Tales - Kid playing on a tree

Tales of Us sets out to change what has become a single story about places of great environmental import.

It gives the people who find themselves at the center of a global struggle over it a face, and shows that there are in fact many stories around both.

These stories need to be told to have a full understanding

Our
Methodology

The core concerns of impact productions are cultural sensitivity, sustainability and positive regional effect.

We are committed to the contribution of positive change in the communities where our projects take place. Instead of imposing our own cultural standards, we work to carry the philosophy of true impact productions. We endeavor to learn from the deep truth of diverse narratives so we can unite cultures and leave programs behind for future generations. For this reason, we take special steps to ensure our team members operate in a socially aware and ethically coherent way.

Consideration for the individuality of local structures and cultural features

Considering the individuality of local structures and cultural features

Strategic use of materials regularly available to locals

Strategically using the materials that are regularly available to locals

Employment of community members to maintain cultural richness

Employing community members to maintain cultural depth and richness

Improving quality of life for communities by encouraging creative thinking

Training support and feedback opportunities for continuous improvement

Creating platforms for untold narrativesto be told

Creating platforms for untold narratives to be told in authentic ways and settings

Congo Tales

Congo Tales Book Cover

Congo Tales

Upturning the traditional conventions of fear-based environmental messaging and the portrayal of Africa solely as a place of plague and war, Congo Tales takes a completely different approach to communicating the urgency of conservation efforts in this region.

In this groundbreaking photo series that was 5 years in the making, national Congolese who live in the Mbomo district of the Congo Basin staged their never-before recorded mythology for fine art portrait photographer Pieter Henket (Lady Gaga, Eddie Redmayne, Mary J. Blige). Henket’s portraits – of dozens of children forming the shape of an Mbomo (or Boa Constrictor); of over a hundred Congolese women forming a line at the border of the forest; of Congolese men on the hunt for a mythical bird – make the Congolese, their myths, and the rainforest the stars ofCongo Tales, and communicate the magic and mystery of this little understood place, and its incalculable value to the planet.

Congo Tales, Tales of Us children under the moon

A book and a short film

Channeling the primal heartbeat of one of the world’s most powerful ecosystems and the people who call it home, the mythological tales of the Congolese – of supernatural forces in control of life and death, of ritualistic initiations into adulthood, of the laws of nature that lie outside the laws of people – are revealed as a treasure trove of universal wisdom that is both existential and pragmatic, with the unspoiled Odzala Kokoua National Park as stage and actor.

A groundbreaking work of scholarly anthropology that calls on the work of Joseph Campbell and the Brothers Grimm, and a captivating work of art and photography,Congo Tales is a feat of innovative environmental messaging and cross-cultural and cross-continental collaboration intended to both prevent the loss of this all-important bastion of nature, and reveal its priceless value to the world and our communal future in it.

A short film based on the story of The Little Fish and the Crocodile was directed by Stefanie Plattner and produced by Eva Vonk, @ Storming Donkey productions.

This Congolese mythological tale tells of a universal truth that nature abides by laws all its own, a timely message for a world in environmental crisis.

Tales of Us SVG Shape 19

Important
Dates

  • 13.01.19

    Christie's auction photo prints Potsdam, Germany
  • 15.11

    US Book Launch at Rizolli New York city, US
  • 21.10

    Ending Exhibition at Museum Barberini Postdam, Germany
  • 29.06

    Book Release EU Online & In Store
  • 29.06

    Opening Exhibition at Museum Barberini Potsdam, Germany
  • 29.05

    Exhibition Mbomo Republic of the Congo
  • 28.05

    Opening Mbomo at Sanza Mobimba Republic of the Congo
  • 22.05

    Opening Brazzaville at C.C.A.V Republic of the Congo
Tales of us cultural awareness

Our Partners

Partner: Congo Conservation Company

Congo Conservation Company is proud to pioneer eco-tourism in the Republic of Congo Odzala. Discovery Camps have provided pre-established trust and infrastructure for the project, ensuring logistical support including safe accommodation, local guides and translators.

Partner: Boom Productions

Boom Productions Inc. has proven to be a solid partner in the ’Tales of Us’ journey.  As a long time collaborator,  producer and supporter of Pieter Henket’s work, Roger Iniss has been part of his professional development for over a decade, knowing his way of working inside and out.

Partner: Storming Donkey Productions

Storming Donkey Productions chooses its projects carefully, storming passionately ahead to realize them. Whether for movies, series, or documentaries, for German, European or international audiences – when they’re convinced they’ve found a story that should be told, they’ll find the right way to tell it.

Partner: Museum Barberini Potsdam

Museum Barberini will provide two featured spaces and full exhibition support during our 3-month run starting in June of 2018. The Barberini proudly offers its full promotional capabilities, to maximize the visibility of this dynamic project and this important cause.

Glück Workshops explores the intersection of learning, interaction and play through arts and technology, as a path to strengthen creativity. The founder of Gluck journeyed several times to the Congo Basin with our team to work on character design classes with local teachers and children.

Partner: 711 seven eleven

Seven Eleven Rent is a professional photography rental company featuring top brands and high quality production equipment. They supplied our team with a state of the art package that has taken the results of the photo series to another level.

Partner: StudioKamp

Studiokamp is a music and sound design company run by composer and award-winning sound artist David Kamp. David journeyed with us into the Congo to capture the unique sounds of Odzala park, its vibrant nature, and hidden villages. Based on those field recordings, he created a multichannel soundscape composition for the exhibition space.

We want to tell more stories.
Want to become a partner? Get in touch here.

The Book

“When an old person passes away, a library of knowledge burns.”
– Sanza Mobimba Teacher

Deep inside the second largest rainforest in the world, the village of Mbomo is inhabited by a diverse group of cultures. After surviving years of devastating Ebola epidemics, the “Mbomoians” now live in a peaceful coexistence. While many ‘stories from the forest’ can be found here, most of them have never before been told.

Offering a fresh yet intimate view of life inside this ecologically rich basin, the Congo Tales photo book joins a deeply moving traditional narrative through the eyes of its community with cinemographic illustration. Although years of research have gone into creating the final result of this series, the images themselves are anything but contrived.

Mainly focusing on children in their most natural form, this book provides powerful imagery of play, translating the importance of nature and conservation.

 

“In “Congo Tales,” a new book about the second-largest tropical forest in the world, the story of a people and their home comes alive.”

-New York Times Book review

The Crocodile
and the Fish

Film is a beautiful, powerful medium to tell stories that need to be told.

The Crocodile and the Fish - Documentary Video Cover

Our team journeyed several times over a three-year period to the Congo Basin with a drawing and animation teacher, an education expert, the project’s producer and other researchers and partners. Together we worked with local teachers on guiding children to draw from the elements of nature and create interesting characters with which to tell stories.

Over the course of several workshops facilitated specifically for the children of Mbomo, these remarkable kids progressed from initial character creation, to creative storytelling and development. By playing with and performing their own adaptation of a traditional story – “The Crocodile and the Fish” –a short film was born as a result of these workshops. This short film will serve as one of the main aspects of our project exhibition, film festivals and educational supplements.

The
Making
of

Giving a voice to those who have observed our work over the last few years, this ‘making of’ film, illustrates the perspective of the amazing Congolese community who let us into their homes and hearts over this 3-year journey. Comprised of the material collected over these years, this video provides an interesting look behind the screens for those who wish to learn more about the real story behind the Congo Tales.

Get in
Touch

For media inquiries contact:

Christopher Nutter / Nutter Media

christopher@nuttermedia.com / 917.770.0350

 

For all other inquiries use:

Where should
we go next?

Tales of Us is an ongoing cultural awareness project committed to immortalizing the hidden stories of the world. You can help us by suggesting a place or becoming a partner and collaborator for future projects. Suggest our next location in the blank below and help us to unite cultures!

Sign up for our newsletter to get
updates about upcoming Tales.

Tales of Us SVG Shape 1 Tales of Us SVG Shape 2 Tales of Us SVG Shape 3 Tales of Us SVG Shape 5 Tales of Us SVG Shape 6 Tales of Us SVG Shape 12 Tales of us shape 14 Tales of Us SVG Shape 16 Tales of Us SVG Shape 20 Tales of Us SVG Shape 22 Tales of Us SVG Shape 24 Tales of Us SVG Shape 25 Tales of Us SVG Shape 26 Tales of Us SVG Shape 28 Tales of Us SVG Shape 4 Tales of Us SVG Shape 7 Tales of Us SVG Shape 8 Tales of Us SVG Shape 9 Tales of us shape 10 Tales of us shape 11 Tales of Us SVG Shape 13 Tales of us shape 15 Tales of us shape 17 Tales of Us SVG Shape 18 Tales of Us SVG Shape 21 Tales of Us SVG Shape 23 Tales of Us SVG Shape 27