sébastien cuvelier

kuck elei
eunma town
instant star
gypsy queens

fascination street
remembering romania
soul of asia
no parking
slum smiles
faraway, so close
day on earth
goldorak: a day in the life

twist and shoot


BALIEM (2011)

Every year in August, somewhere in the mountains of West Papua, the small village of Wosilimo is the theater of an old movie, one where Papuans remember their past and try to re-enact it in style.

Women dust off their grass skirts and men grab their penis gourds for 3 days of dancing, mock fighting and sweet potatoes cooking.

Before I went there, I had feared to jump into a circus or worse, a zoo. Although the zoo metaphor could be used for some respectless photographers who treat Papuans like cattle, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and spent a lot of time smiling and laughing with these people even though I could only speak gibberish. I was eventually rewarded with a sweet potato right out of the ground oven.

It's only after the festival that I decided to trek in the surrounding villages of the Baliem valley to get a more authentic view of the local life. It was a tough trek, I won't lie, but it was equally rewarding, especially as I stumbled upon a wedding celebration held in pure Papuan style: three days of partying, singing and pig roasting. No DJ here, just an out-of-this-world choir spreading its never-heard-before, almost psychedelic sounds all over the valley under the moonlight. Magical.


all pictures © sébastien cuvelier · please do not reproduce in any form without prior written consent