Joana Choumali: Hââbré
50 Golborne, London, United Kingdom25 Feb 2016 - 02 Apr 2016
Hââbré is the word for ‘writing’ and ‘scarification’ in Kô language from Burkina Faso. Joana Chomali uses studio portraiture with the same background and lighting to map the last generation of people wearing scarifications in the city of Abidjan. She photographs the faces and the unexpectedly expressive upper backs of each sitter.
The practice of scarification is disappearing fast in West Africa due to the pressure of religious and state authorities, urban practices and the introduction of Western clothing in tribes. This last generation of people bearing the imprint of the past on their faces, went from being the norm and having a high social value to being somewhat “excluded”.
In the series, Joana Choumali questions the link between past and present in contemporary Africa and self-image depending on a given environment. Referencing ethnographic portraiture, the artist further plays with the gaze of the viewer, who somewhat uncomfortably is asked to examine her sitters in the same scientific way; beyond the scars that are the common point between the faces of the models, the unique personalities and possibly life experiences of each sitter surges out of the frame to meet us frontally, making it an intriguing and poignant encounter.
Joana Choumali, born in 1974 trained in Graphic Arts and Photography in Casablanca (Morocco) and is now based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. She works on documentary, mixed media and photography.
In 2014, she was the winner of the Lensculture Emerging Talent Award and in the same year was awarded the POPCAP’ Piclet Prize for Africa.
Joana Choumali last exhibited at various venues including Grid Cape Town Biennial, POPCAP’14 (Vienna), LensCulture (Barcelona), Barrobjectif (Charentes, France) and Image Afrique (Basel) to name a few.
50Golborne, one of London’s newest galleries, its mission is to investigate the convergence between art, design and craft with a special interest in Africa and the African Diaspora, which the gallery aims to explore within an international context.
Launched in 2010, LagosPhoto is the first and only international arts festival of photography in Nigeria. LagosPhoto aims to establish a community for contemporary photography, which will unite local and international artists through images that encapsulate individual experiences and identities from across all of Africa.