3134. is the distance in kilometers between Abidjan and Casablanca. Joana Choumali lived and studied in Casablanca, the artist says she has “kept a strong memory of Morocco”.
3134. also refers to the notion of migration, travel, and dialogue, not only across the world and between different cultures but also dialogues and inner journeys in which Joana draws inspiration.
The artist uses photography to explore her identity. Much of her work is about Africa, and what she, as an African, is learning about the myriad cultures that surround her. Her work allows her to explore the assumptions she has and nourishes her as she develops her conceptions of the world.
“My work is a testimony to my time, to my surroundings, to the multitude of cultures, subcultures and phenomena that I observe, whether on my continent or outside. I really like to draw parallels between what brings humans closer than what divides them. Joana Choumali
Joana not only deals with Africa but also carries a universal message, a message of hope through its different series. The special place of Morocco in the heart of the artist makes Casablanca a strong place to return to her work by presenting a large body of work that contains a part of her deep intimacy.
Born in 1974 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Joana studied graphic arts in Casablanca (Morocco). Before starting her photography career, she worked as an art director for an advertising agency. Since 2000, she has participated in numerous solo and collective exhibitions on the African continent, in France and in Great Britain. Her multi-award-winning series “Hââbré *, the last generation” (2013-14) has also been shown in Africa and Europe, as well as in the United States and Malaysia, with scarification being an old African tradition. Once a standard of high social status, it is now disappearing, because of the evolution of values in contemporary societies. As a result, this series is a witness of ancient times.
The series Resilients (2013-14), in which Joana photographed African women in the traditional clothes of her female ancestors, also deals with the past and the present. Similarly, “Adorn” (2015) has a documentary character. Nevertheless, this is the reinterpretation of European beauty standards by African black women today. The series was presented in the Ivory Coast Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2017, in addition to the series “Translation” (2016-17). The artist examines here migration and its effects on the societies concerned and on the persistent dream of Africans to find a better life in the Western world, despite obstacles such as visas.
Joana’s recent series “ça va aller …” (2016 – 2018) was taken three weeks after the terrorist attacks in Grand Bassam (Ivory Coast) on March 13, 2016. Bassam has always been a place for her peaceful retreat, with a positive memory of childhood experience and family encounters, until the day of the raid. Even though the events have caused deep sadness in the small town, these feelings have often been shortened by the phrase “it’s okay …”. By capturing the dark atmosphere and embroidering these images, the artist tried to heal the mental wounds. “ça va aller …” was presented for the first time at AKAA – Also Known As Africa 2017 in Paris, then at the Biennale of African Photography – Rencontres de Bamako in 2017, then at 1-54 Art Fair in Marrakech, New York and London 2018.
Joana’s latest series, Albahian, is made of multiple layers of delicate and dreamy fabrics, intertwined and embroidered with parts of images, poetic collages of photographs. The real-world merges with the feelings and impressions of the inner world, giving an evocative and complex image enriched by invisible meanings. Which would not be possible without the introspective examination that Joana Choumali underwent.
Alba’hian means the “first glow of the morning”, or dawn, in the agni language of Ivory Coast, and celebrates the mighty energy that comes with the beginning of a new day, the new light that makes everything visible and illuminate the world in the same way that we are born again as we embrace our inner selves and accept our true nature.
For more information: http://www.loftartgallery.net/
Loft Art Gallery
13 Rue El Kaïssi, Casablanca 20250, Morocco
February 07, 2019 to March 10, 2019