Lea Lund and Erik K

Erik, South Broadway, NY, October, 2014

Statement from Erik

Originally from the eastern Kasai, the diamond region, I come from the Luba tribe. Before colonization, my great-grandfather was one of the last kings of the Lubas, in the Mpiana tribe. The rest of the story up to my birth is long and complicated…I was born in Lubumbashi, in Katanga, the richest region of Zaire, thanks to its copper mines, on February 12, 1970. I say “Zaire” because when I left my home country in 1995, it was still called that. Now this country is the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

My first memories… I am in Kinshasa, the capital city. Daycare and primary school are in a neighborhood called Lemba. It’s a student district at the University of Kinshasa, where my father is a medical student. The most striking thing was the absence of my mother, whom I did not know. Without anyone telling me, I understood that she was not with me. As a child, I was often displaced and uprooted because I followed my father wherever he was transferred as a doctor: Kisangani, Bunia, Aru – which is on the border of Uganda – Watshia, Isiro, etc… Aru marked me because of the war in Uganda between Idi Amin Dada, Milton Obote and Yoweri Museveni. My father took care of the war refugees who fled the fighting every night.

I studied math and physics and then went to law school for three years. I had two dreams; to make politics to help and develop Zaire and all Africa, and to become a lawyer to defend the oppressed. During the school holidays I worked for my father, who also did business. He made a good living. With my first salary, I went to the Aru market where I bought my first clothes. I will never forget that moment. Without knowing it, I discovered my first passion: clothing, elegance, the love of materials and work well done and the importance of clothing details. It was the beginning of my style, which continues to evolve over time. Today, I like to hunt and customize my clothes. I also work with touch-ups. If I couldn’t find the hat I liked, I created my own hat, the Erik K hat. I am often considered a dandy, that does not bother me, but I prefer to speak of elegance, quite simply. 

Having become accustomed to spending my money at the market to buy clothes, I of course also bought ties, even though it was forbidden to wear them. This is one of the reasons why I became interested in the history of the colonization of my country by Belgium. Five years after decolonization, which took place in 1960, Joseph Désiré Mobutu made a coup d’état against Joseph Kasa-Vubu and became the great dictator that we know. In 1971, he gave the name of Zaire to the country, the river and the currency; it is the year of the three Z, of the Zaireanization. He changed the first name of the entire population by creating the “Post-name”. He banned women from wearing pants, and men from wearing ties and suits, and forced all men to wear a Mao collar jacket, the famous “abacost”, which means “à bas le costume”.

After my father died in 1995, I left Zaire for Cabinda, then Luanda, Angola. I lived there for three years, during the war between Eduardo Dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi, which traumatized me. In 1998, I managed to leave for Europe. I arrived in Switzerland, where I worked as a driver, then as a salesman in ready-to-wear and watchmaking. In 2011, I met Lea. After a few months, I resigned from my job to devote myself to our life of creation and travel. My encounter with engraving, which I discovered thanks to Lea, became a passion. It’s a kind of psychotherapy for me, I can immerse myself in my inner world. I make engravings for myself, and I also enhance our photographs by passing them in press. - Erik K, Paris, January 2021

Statement from Lea

Erik and I are a couple of artists, married. Married for and in life, creation and travel. I will use Lea Lund’s ”I” for the ”We” of our artistic adventure, born on July 28, 2011 and destined, if life allows us, to stop only when we disappear.

We met by chance in the streets of Lausanne. I was then fifty, and he forty. It was 11 pm, I noticed this elegant and unusual man. I walked up to him and said, “It’s fun to meet a man like you on the streets of this little town...”. He said, "I’m going to a wedding, do you want to come with me?" I agreed, we talked all night, and never left each other again.  I am a graduate of the fine arts of Lausanne, with a long career as a visual artist, designer, illustrator, photographer and graphic designer. He came from Zaïre at the age of 28 after many wanderings and was then a watch salesman. We were both recently divorced, it was a “collision” rather than a meeting… The next day, I offered to shoot his portrait. He accepted and I was challenged by what he had released in these first photographs; a mixture of melancholy and detachment, an appearance of eternal stranger to the world.

Very quickly, we made exhibitions, and continued to make photographs every day. Our life became a life of three; Erik, me, and the camera. A life of nomads in search of places, buildings, architecture – my father, mother, brother and uncle are architects – or landscapes. Our work consists of two series; the series Nomads, photographs of travels, and the series Studio, photographs indoors, where the real decor gives way to our imagination. Over the years, an invisible link has been woven between our photographs, the discourse that is creates, and our life together.

I do not define myself as a photographer; our life is an artistic performance where photography is the medium. An infinite Vanity, a tireless search for places, a quest for meaning to the absurdity of our existences. But our work would be impossible if it were not also a love story, a love that is intended to be absolute and ambitious of eternity. We are outsiders in the world of photography. It is now almost ten years that we travel the roads of Europe and sometimes the world, our vehicle full of clothes, and photographic equipment. Small hotels or Airbnb dwellings, spending our days wandering around unknown cities and their suburbs, tracking places, atypical, magnificent, ugly or strange, and also running after light, mist or cloud... Our life is full of wonder and, but also of pain and frustration when, after running behind a cloud for hours, we miss the last ray of light of the day. We try to take a month-a-year trip to a country or a region to really dive into its identity and essence.

I quickly began to intervene on our photographs with mixed techniques; engraving, drawing, scratched papers, hatched, in order to give them a signature related to my first activity; drawing. Erik had never drawn in his life. Seeing me doing it, he asked me to teach him the basics. He then began to engrave at dry point, and to print his engravings on our photographic prints. Lea Lund, Paris, January 2021

 

Images are available as 16 x 20", 24 x 31½", 27½ x 39½" pigment prints in a total Ed. of 13 or 15 depending on the year of the negative. Pieces range in price from $1800 to $10,000 depending on size and availability. 

Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Arles, July, 2013
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseille, June, 2013
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Bologne Museo Poggi, October , 2019
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Camargue, July, 2013
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Hafen, Hamburg, June, 2015
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Hôtel Maxim, Bologne, October, 2019
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, January, 2013
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Kinderdijk, April, 2016
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Kingston, Brooklyn, NY, Cctober , 2014
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, May, 2016
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, May, 2016
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, NY Bar, 2014
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Paris, February, 2019
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, plage d'Ostende. May, 2017
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Séville, November, 2013
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, South Broadway, NY, October, 2014
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Toscane, Cctober , 2019
Lea Lund and Erik K
Erik, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY, October, 2014
Lea Lund and Erik K
Lea & Erik, August, 2018
Lea Lund and Erik K
Lea & Erik, Lausanne, October, 2017