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Portrait Series Documents the Disappearing Practice of Scarification in Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire-based photographer Joana Choumali documents the disappearing practice of scarification in a series of powerful portraits entitled “Hââbré, The Last Generation.” Illustrating “the complexity of African society today,” Choumali’s work is both compassionate and evocative.

Detailing the background of her project, Choumali states that the word Hââbré means both “writing” and “scarification” in Kô language. In creating “Hââbré, The Last Generation,” Choumali says she wanted to portray her subjects neutrally-keeping the background and lighting consistent for each subject-in order to take a “no excuse, no judgment” approach.

Seeking out the last generation of people displaying scarification, Choumali had difficulty finding people to photograph as the practice of scarification-and thus those who display it-is quickly disappearing. Of the subjects of “Hââbré, The Last Generation,” she says, “This ‘last generation’ of people bearing the imprint of the past on their faces, went from being the norm and having a high social value to being somewhat ‘excluded.’ They are slowly becoming the last generation of a scarified African people…They are the last witnesses of an Africa of a bygone era."

Joana Choumali is a photographer and former graphic designer based in Abidjan. You can find more of her work on her website.

Images courtesy of Joana Choumali, used with permission.

Via [Feature Shoot]

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1 Comment

David Vaughn's picture

Good series. It's really interesting seeing all the designs and just how deep some of those scars go. It makes me curious as to the meaning behind the different patterns.