Joana Choumali, born in 1974, is a freelance Ivoirian photographer who studied graphic arts in Casablanca, Morocco before embarking on her photographic career.
Her project Resilients which was recently featured at the Photolux Festival in Lucca, Italy, sponsored by the African Artist Foundation, is a collection of portraits of young African women dressed in the outfits of their grandmothers. She was inspired to undertake this project by her relationship with her own grandmother, who lived as a farmer in a small village called Adaou far away from Abidjan. Ms. Choumali was born and raised in Abidjan, and when she occasionally visited her she realized how disconnected she was from her traditional culture.
“I felt like a part of me was going and part of my family was fading away,” she said. “For a long time, I felt guilty. I thought, I don’t speak the language, maybe I’m not that African.”
When her grandmother died in 2001, the thought gradually matured in her mind that through her photographic art she might be able to explore her own identity and recreate that connection for herself as well as for other women, and she started to seek out modern professional women, many of whom she encountered in the streets of Abidjan, for photo sessions. The project ran over several months with Ms. Choumali’s only requirement being that the women should wear traditional clothing and accessories which had been worn by older women relatives and that also their skin and hair should be styled according to the traditions of their tribe, to “emphasize the link between past and present, and also the cultural heritage,”
The end result was stunningly beautiful photos, mainly of Ivoirian women but also women from other African tribes. We have selected some of our favourites for your viewing pleasure.
Photo Credits: JoanaChoumali.com