This August, Gallery 1957 (Accra) presents a solo exhibition by the award-winning Ivorian photographer and mixed media artist Joana Choumali, running from 24 August- 5 October 2019. Presenting new and recent works which blend photography with collage and embroidery, the exhibition will include works from the series Ça Va Aller, Translation, and Alba’hian. It will also debut works inspired by the artist’s early-morning explorations of Accra in the summer of 2019; marking a departure for the artist, this latest body of work sees the artist working on a larger scale (up to 2m x 1m), for the first time.
Choumali is known particularly for her photography work, including the critically-lauded series Hââbré/The Last Generation documenting portraits of a “last generation” of scarified Burkinabè men and women living in Abidjan, as well as individuals from Niger, Nigeria, and Benin. Following the 13 March 2016 terrorist attacks in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, Choumali instinctively turned to embroidery as a way to process the trauma of the event. Rather than dismiss her feelings with the favored Ivorian maxim “Ça va aller” (“It will be OK”), she chose to explore them via the gesture of slowly stitching, sometimes over several months. Richly worked, they reflect not only the artist’s physical touch, but also her emotional evolution as she used this new way of art making to both process this moment of national grief, and face challenges in her personal life. In the artist’s words, discovering embroidery “opened a new gate in my life,” through which she was free to be sensitive, to speak the unspoken, and to connect with others on a human level.