In Ivory Coast mannequins are customised to the locally preferred female form: a big bosom, full arms, a stark face and prominent derriere. Joana Choumali (Ivory Coast) makes hybrid projections of modern beauty ideals. Her work was awarded by photography website Lensculture and photo agency Magnum, among others.
Awoulabi / Taille Fine
In the West, we’re used to angular mannequins, rather a-sexual and not very seductive. But in some African countries these mannequins are customised to the locally preferred female form: a big bosom, full arms, a stark face and prominent derriere. This type of mannequin is called ‘Awoulabi’ (beauty queen) in Ivory Coast. It’s the opposite of the Western beauty ideal, the small waist or taille fine.
For her series Awoulabi / taille fine (2016) Joana Choumali (Ivory Coast, 1974) explored modern beauty ideals. What is a perfect body? How do you get one? African countries are no exception in praising curves, think of American reality star Kim Kardashian whose trademark is her plastically enhanced backside. Choumali used her own photos to project different variations on the beauty ideal. She creates a hybrid representation of real and fake ‘perfect’ women, a sort of augmented reality. Choumali worked in advertising before committing herself to photography.