The four-part La Maison Noir is a sublime visual feast that tells a transitional narrative of the artist’s life, seamlessly weaving an imaged tapestry of his life from young Yannick Ilunga to global artist Petite Noir.
The album, a passion project that has been a year in the making, is a collaborative effort between Red Bull Music South Africa and the Noirwave, made up of co-directors Tim Weyer of Iconic Agency and Rochelle Nembhad, who is also the creative director, dancer and choreographer Manthe Ribane, Gabrielle Kannemeyer as art director and Petite Noir himself, who provided the music direction.
Borrowing from his Congolese heritage, Petite Noir said the album was his personal cosmogram, “The Congolese cosmogram represents a constant circular motion of the element that symbolizes rebirth. We all go through a rebirth every few years and this visual album is all about rebirth.” The Namibian landscape provided the perfect setting for this as it incorporates the four essential elements of fire, air, water and earth.
Nembhard added that the album aims to encourage people to keep moving forward despite life’s stumbling blocks. “The album is a pilgrimage; there is constant walking throughout the entire film. It’s about remembering to put one foot in front of the other because in life, the journey is infinite.”
The costumes are made from flowing robes, each a color palette representation of the four phases of the film. Red speaks to the Fire element, white represents air, earth is symbolized by nude/brown, and the water is blue.
The first video is a narrative of Yannick’s early life in the DRC. It is desolate, strange, surreal, and a bit violent. It’s followed by a second video, an ode to the strong women who played a significant role in his life.
The third installment is meant to portray Yannick’s maturation as an artist as he struggles with his identity and rising celebrity.
Concluding the film is the last video of a mobilized crowd walking with the artist towards his destination. It is a dreamy, surreal conclusion, which plays off the first video’s fiery introduction to the surroundings that have influenced Yannick with a recognition that they are overburdened and under-credited.
Petite Noir is also releasing a six-track album La Maison Noir, which was partially recorded at the Red Bull Music Studio in Cape Town; where he has been recording since 2010