Joana Choumali: ç ava aller……, 2016
Joana Choumali, born in 1974, is a fine art photographer based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. She studied Graphic Arts in Casablanca (Morocco) and worked as an Art Director in an advertising agency before embarking on her photography career.
She works primarily on conceptual portraiture, mixed media and documentary. She uses her photography to explore her own identity. Much of her work focuses on Africa, and what she, as an African, is learning about the myriad cultures around her. Her work allows her to explore assumptions she has and nourishes her as she expands her conceptions of the world.
‘ça va aller..’, 2016 iPhone photographs on cotton canvas, 24 cmx24 cm, hand embroidered with DMC cotton thread.
The pictures were shot with my iphone, 3 weeks after the terrorrist attacks I chose to use my iphone instead of my DSLR camera to capture people discreetly. They don’ t know that they are photographed, so their attitude is natural. I took the pictures as if i was doing a scan of the city.
It took me one month to embroider the pictures as i was sick with malaria and also “sick of all this nonsense”..
This series is a way to cope with my own sadness and a way to witness the (denied) traumatism of people living there.
Bassam is my refuge, the place i go to unwind and to be by myself. At one hour drive from Abidjan, Bassam is a place full of history, a quiet and peaceful little town. Bassam reminds me of insouciance, my wedding family lunch, all these childhood sunday afternoons i used to spend with my loved ones on this same beach where the attacks took place.. To me, Bassam was a synonym of happiness, until that day.
3 weeks after the attacks, the atmosphere of the little town changed.. The sadness is everywhere. A “saudade”, some kind of melancholy invaded the town.
Most of the pictures show empty places, and people by themselves, walking in the streets or just standing, sitting alone, lost in their thoughts. “ça va aller” means “it will be ok” . This typical ivorian expression is used for everything, even for situations that are not going to be ok.
This work is a way to address the way ivorian people deal with psychological suffering.
In Côte d ‘ Ivoire, people do not discuss their psychological issues, or feelings. A post-traumatic choc is often considered as weakness or a mental disease. People hardly talk about their feelings, and each conversation is quickly shortened by a resigned ” ça va aller”.
The attacks re-opened the mental wounds left by the post electoral war of 2011.
Each stitch was a way to recover, to lie down the emotions, the loneliness, and mixed feelings i felt. (text website artist)