Joana Choumali, Resilient

“Young Africans, Wrapped in Tradition”

“Joana Choumali, a photographer from Ivory Coast who has been documenting modern African women wearing their family’s traditional clothing. She said these portraits allow her subjects to reconnect with their family history in a physical way.

“Even if we don’t speak the language or don’t go to the village every day, we are still African,” Ms. Choumali said. “I think it’s time to redefine what being African is.””

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Soukeyna is studying marketing in France. She is wearing her great-grandmother’s outfit from Ivory Coast.

“In her portrait series, “Resilients,” which was recently featured at the Photolux Festival in Lucca, Italy, sponsored by the African Artist Foundation, Ms. Choumali sought to document young, professional African women — mostly Ivorian — who also struggled with the lingering guilt of not being able to relate to their family’s traditional past. Over the course of several months, each portrait session required intense research on the specific details of how the clothes, jewelry, skin and hair needed to be styled based on the specific tribe the family was from.

She initially found most of her subjects — lawyers, students, doctors and managers — on the streets of Abidjan. Her sole requirement for the portrait was that the women had to wear traditional clothing already worn by their grandmother or an older female relative. This was intended to “emphasize the link between past and present, and also the cultural heritage,” Ms. Choumali said. Inspired by the golden hues of Rembrandt’s paintings, she handmade a backdrop to give the portraits a “feeling of time travel,” she said.”

-These golden hues remind me of my original presentation idea of my final piece at the beginning of this module. I intended on having prints inside traditional golden frames, like the ones you see monumental, traditional hunting paints inside, placed inside grand halls and country homes. I think that the colour gold has a real resemblance to heritage and tradition, along with wealth and class.

Richardson, W. (2016) Young Africans, Wrapped in Tradition [online] available from <http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/03/02/joana-choumali-africa-ivory-coast-portrait-photos/?emc=edit_tnt_20160302&nlid=20156471&tntemail0=y&module=Endslate&region=SlideShowTopBar&version=EndSlate&action=Click&contentCollection=Blogs&slideshowTitle=Young+Africans%2C+Wrapped+in+Tradition&currentSlide=Endslate&entrySlide=1&pgtype=imageslideshow&_r=0&gt;

This is an interesting project on the importance of heritage and tradition to the people involved, which has great significance to my project too. The tradition and history of Hunting attire is thought of very highly by all involved with hunting, hence why it is so important that riders are dressed well, and classic, and horses are turned out to a high standard. You could say that they have a uniform to abide by, if they don’t live up to this standard then they will be looked down upon.

For the women involved within the series ‘Resilence’, their tribe culture was important to them: “The mother was so emotional,” Ms. Choumali said. “We don’t even know why we cried, but the energy was really special. I feel that they were feeling the same feeling as I felt — relieved and kind of reassured that they were also part of their culture.” this is the same for fox hunting, it could be said to be a community, a culture to some people. Many people involved in hunting submit their lives to this, for the hunt masters this is their life, this is their job, every day they ride and train and look after the hounds. The Quorn Hunt, hunt 4 times per week, this is their livelihood. Many people follow this; the spectators.

Choumali said that her portraits allow people to “reconnect with their family history in a physical way”, in a similar way this is what I want to allow my viewers to do when they view my fashion story. For the hunting community viewers, I would like them to reconnect and think about the traditions and heritage surrounding hunting, the many years its been a community, when viewing my story.  Some families may even have the traditional scarlet hunt coat which has been passed through as history goes on, this is something even more special they can think about. Yet, for the general viewer, I would like them to connect with my images by the way the narrative gives them an insight to this important, timeless, tradition of hunting attire.

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