The art of war starts with fixing one’s stare. Fighting back means not looking down. From the other side of the globe, from the other end of France, from the commune of Canala, thirty kilometres north of Noumea, Toawani Tonchane, Basile Kaitchou, Toawani Moasadi, Franck Tomedi, and Ezekia Diake look us in the eye. They face the photographer’s lens, they face us. We cannot see their bodies but we can imagine them anchored in the soil, planted in ground from which they can never be uprooted. These are the sons and daughters of the Kanak lands. They belong to the tribe of the irreducible, the Gelima, the Nonhoue, the Nakety, the Neho... Their faces are the colour of wood and dried clay, their hair shaggy like the undergrowth. These women and men are the landscape itself. The photographer’s lighting accentuates the relief and ruggedness of their faces, these farmers and fishermen, these labourers from down the mineshaft. It marries the grain and furrows of their skin, records the potent electric force in their eyes. There is arrogance in these pupils charged with blackness, but also the glow of sadness, a bitter tear. Although the dark days of violence and the activities of the separatists now lie in the past, the flame of inflexible insularity still flickers in these eyes. These men and women are the sons and daughters of a world that has come full circle, one they are bent on preserving and making endure. Their lives straddle both past and present, they are the riders of the traditional world they were born into, and before them their parents, their ancestors, their family gods. They hold fast to their ancient customs without always being able to keep them alive. The brutality of their features testifies to the brutality of life and history as well. The elders are shattered, the young vengeful; the values of the different generations do not necessarily correspond. They are from both Canala and across the sea, rebels and conquered, heroes and renegades. They are loyal to both their clans and their entire people, rooted and yet with no reference pointers. They look at us from far-off days, while we see them for the first time.