Joana Choumali in conversation with Francis Hodgson

Image: Joana Choumali, ‘Because we actually played outside as kids’, Series Albahian, 2019. © the Artist Courtesy Gallery 1957.

Join Prix Pictet Hope laureate Joana Choumali in conversation with Francis Hodgson, profes­sor in the Culture of Photography at the University of Brighton, as they discuss her career in-depth, how she came to win the Prix Pictet and her latest series ‘Alba’hian’, images from which were exhibited by Gallery 1957 at Photo London Digital.

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Joana Choumali, born in 1974, is a visual artist/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 mainly on conceptual portraits, mixed media and documentary photography. Much of her work focuses on Africa, and what she, as an African, learns about the innumerable cultures around her. In her latest works, Joana embroiders directly on the images completing the act of creating the photograph image with a slow and meditative gesture. Joana has exhibited her work at the Museum of Civilizations-Abidjan, the Donwahi Foundation for Contemporary Art-Abidjan, at the Rotonde des Arts Contemporary Art Center – Abidjan, at the Vitra Design Museum-Basel, at the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden- Marrakech, at the Museum of photography -St Louis, Senegal, at the Tropen Musuem –Amsterdam at the International Photography Biennale of Bamako, at the Photoquai Biennale (Quai Branly Museum- Paris), at the Lagos Photo Festival, and PhotoVogue festival. In 2014, she won the CapPrize Award and the 2014 Emerging Photographer LensCulture Award. In 2016, she received the Magnum Emergency Grant Foundation, and the Fourthwall Books Award in South Africa. In 2017, she exhibited her series “Translation” and “Adorn” at the Pavilion of the Ivory Coast during the 57th Venice International Biennale. Her latest mixed media series Alba’hian is exhibited at the Zeitz Mocaa Museum of Contemporary Arts-Capetown. On November 13th 2019 she is the first African winner of the Eight Prix Pictet for her series “Ça va aller ” (“It will be ok”) on this cycle’s theme of Hope. Her work has been published in the international press: CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, El Pais (Spain), Le Monde, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Harper Bazaar Art, Le Temps (Switzerland), La Stampa, The Internazionale (Italy) etc. Her book “HAABRE”, was published and edited in Johannesburg in 2016.

Francis Hodgson is Professor in the Culture of Photography at the University of Brighton, England. For many years, he was the photography critic of the Financial Times and head of the photographs department at Sotheby’s. He is one of the founders of the Prix Pictet and an art adviser specialising in fine photographs. He advises on many aspects of collections (public and private) and occasionally help photographers to market their work and act as a consultant to various image-centred businesses such as stock libraries.