Joana Choumali was born and raised in Abidjan. After attending local international schools, she studied Graphic Arts in Casablanca (Morocco) and worked as an Art Director in an advertising agency before starting her photography career. Her style includes conceptual portraiture, mixed media and documentary. Much of her work focuses on Africa, her assumptions about the diversity of cultures around her, and her expanding conceptions of the world.
As a child, Choumali would travel to Adaou, a small town in the southeast, to visit her grandmother, a farmer and trader. She often felt a cultural disconnect as they did not speak the same language or share life experiences. After her grandmother died in 2001, Choumali lamented losing part of her family history and questioned her identity as an African. This experienced inspired her 2014 portrait series, "Resilients", which documents young, professional African women who also struggled with connecting to their family's traditional past. The only requirement was that the women had to wear traditional clothing already worn by their grandmother or an older female relative, emphasizing the link between past and present.
Choumali used to be fascinated seeing people of different social origins proudly displaying their facial scarification across the Ivory Coast, but the practice is dying out. Choumali's 2014 work, "Hââbré, the last generation", documents the last generation of scarified Africans. “Hââbré” means “writing”, “sign” and “scarification”; this one word signifies all three notions in Kô, a language from Burkina Faso. Most of the people photographed emigrated from Burkia Faso a long time ago, but the scarification reminds them of their home country and their past. The project gathers their testimonies and looks at their integration into Ivoirian society
Her work continues to convey her vision of an Africa that’s between tradition and modernity.
Visit the Website: www.joanachoumali.com