Last night, Ivorian photographer Joana Choumali won the Prix Pictet 2019 during a ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. For the 8th edition of this international photography prize focusing on sustainable development, the chosen theme was hope.
Among the twelve finalists in the competition, only one received the generous grant of CHF 100,000 (€90,000) but all of them will participate in the travelling exhibition that will stop in a dozen cities, and will be part of the book published by teNeues.
“It will be ok” are Joana Choumali’s words chosen for her series’ name. A common and popular expression used both to sweep away the worries of everyday life and to face the most terrible tragedies. On March 13, 2016, in Grand-Bassam in Ivory Coast, it was heard on every street corner: a violent terrorist attack hit the seaside resort and killed sixteen people. Three weeks after the tragedy, Joana Choumali wandered these streets with her smartphone to capture the atmosphere: "I wanted to capture people discreetly," she explains," sadness is everywhere.” Her photographs show empty streets, passers-by wandering or waiting seated, lost in their thoughts…
These are the images that emerge from her stroll. And then, slowly, methodically, small touches of colour appear. Here, a road that turns pink, there, some thoughts materialized in blue, yellow, green… Once her images are printed, Joana Choumali adds colorful embroideries to erase the sadness of her photographs. An automatic writing that invites you to meditate, heal your wounds and hope again. “It will be ok”.
By Coline Olsina