The Emoi Photographique association intends to stand as a showcase for a genre of photography based on the coherence of long-term work, for an offbeat kind of photography, but also for European, African and other continents’ photography. The Emoi Photographique festival takes place in Angoulême, France from March 24 to April 29, 2018.

Awoulaba / Taille fine is one of the latest photographic achievements of young Ivorian photographer Joana Choumali. It is a questioning of the desire for the perfect body and the social and moral implications that flow from it.

Joana ChoumaliJoana Choumali, born in 1974, is an art photographer based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. She studied Graphic Arts in Casablanca (Morocco) and worked as artistic director in an advertising agency before embarking on photography. She works mainly on conceptual portraiture, mixed media and documentary. She uses photography to explore her own identity. Much of her work focuses on Africa, and what she learns as an African is the knowledge of the countless cultures that surround her. Her work allows her to explore the assumptions she has and feed herself as she expands her worldviews.

AWOULABA / TAILLE FINE is an exploration of the complex notion of femininity, beauty and body image in contemporary Africa. And, by extension, an exploration of all the contemporary feminine universes observed with the sudden obsession of feminine curves. For Awoulaba / Taille Fine, Joana has documented local manufacturers in Côte d’Ivoire who produce customized mannequins responding to idealized African shapes. This is a recent phenomenon, begun only in 2011, but already very successful. Local manufacturers modify or create mannequins, with body shapes closer to those of African women: broad hips, well-filled breasts, full arms.

This type of model is called ‘Awoulaba’, which means ‘beauty queen’ in the Baoulé language of Côte d’Ivoire. In Ivorian popular culture, the Awoulabas are beautiful women of impressive dimensions: a face with fine features, big breasts, a well-marked waist and, above all, big buttocks. Taille Fine, on the other hand, is the term used to identify models or mannequins conforming to Western beauty standards.

Awoulaba by Joana ChoumaliJoana layers images of body parts of real women with photographs of perfect model shapes. They evoke the ‘Venus’ type of celebrities who embody the ‘perfect beauty’ in Pop Culture. These conceptual compositions are hybrid representations of what a ‘perfect woman’ is supposed to be like: real and perfect, simultaneously.

The photographer studies the concept of beauty and body perfection. What should be considered a perfect body? Women are constantly exposed and influenced by fashion dictates, media-imposed models and global norms that hardly represent the diversity of human bodies. Beauty then becomes an overlay, the projection of trends from one society to another. What should be considered beautiful and attractive is confused with what is supposed to be loved, what is supposed to be considered beautiful by popular norms. And soon, what will happen to tomorrow’s Africa? 

– Winner of the POPCAP’14 Prize Africa 2014- “Hââbré, the last generation”
– LensCulture Emerging Talents Awards 2014 Winner – “Hââbré, the last generation”
– Fourthwall books Award 2016. “Hââbré, the last generation”
– 2016 Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grantee – Series “Sissi Barra”

Contact :
Joana Choumali :
+225 07800749
e-mail : [email protected]