Hââbré is a series of portraits of people who represent perhaps the last generation to bear the ritual scarification associated with a number of ethnic groups in various parts of West Africa. These lush images, shot in Choumali’s studio in Abidjan, are accompanied by excerpts of interviews conducted by Choumali with her sitters, which reveal a range of responses to scarification, from pride to ambivalence and even outright rejection of the facial markings. These portraits and texts examine the complex role of tradition in an urban setting such as Abidjan and suggest the shifting nature of the concepts of beauty and identity.
Joana Choumali was born in Côte d’Ivoire in 1974. She studied graphic arts in Casablanca, Morocco, and then worked as an art director in an advertising agency before embarking on her photographic career. She lives and works in Abidjan.