Laamb captures the theatrics of traditional Senegalese wrestling

Shot over the course of a single match, the collaborative publication reveals the importance this age-old sport stills holds for Dakar’s youth

Laamb is a new collaborative publication based on the work of photographers Iván Monagas and Ángela López, and creative director Davide Pistilli. Comprising a series of photographs that they took during a trip to Senegal’s capital Dakar in 2022, the publication delves into traditional Senegalese wrestling culture.

During the trip, the pair were invited by a friend to spectate a match that is held on one of Dakar’s beaches on a weekly basis. Watching on as the young wrestlers tussled for glory, they were struck by the socio-cultural significance of this pastime, as well as the ease with which it lended itself to powerful photography.

Capturing the event and those involved, Monagas and López were later inspired to create a publication from their images, and decided to reach out to Pistilli to help with the project. The result is Laamb, a zine that takes its name from the sport, and through which readers can gain an insight into the beauty and passion of the culture, and the wrestlers themselves.

Composed of various portraits of the participants, readers can witness the rituals that take place before and during the match. In the photographs, the anticipation leading up to the event is palpable, as well as the ecstasy of the eventual winners.

Richly rendered, Monagas and López say the “vivid hues capture the raw energy and excitement that course through every wrestling match, while the classic black and white tones establish a sense of timelessness, linking contemporary wrestlers to the heritage of those who paved the way”.

The design follows suit, nodding to the history of the sport while introducing a contemporary feel that highlights its ongoing importance in Senegal. The zine’s maximalist cover features bold colours and a DIY aesthetic that hint at the youthfulness of the culture, which is later balanced by the more traditional documentary approach of the images.

This is further complemented by the typeface Neue Haas Grotesk, which is neutral enough to not detract from the photographs, but also reinforces the modern context within which they were shot.

The objective was to “encapsulate the essence of the heartfelt encounter [Monagas and López] had on that beach within a publication that transcends the confines of mere pages,” says the team. “Through the pages of Laamb, [our] sincere intention is to pay a genuine homage to this enchanting land, its people, culture, and the vibrant tapestry of life that pulses through its very fabric.”;