Hââbré is the word for ‘writing’ and ‘scarification’ in the Kô language from Burkina Faso. These beautifully lit and shot portrait photos show some of the last individuals to have gone through scarification rituals in West Africa, in Abidjan, where the practice has moved from being the 'norm' and a symbol of high status, to something 'excluded' and looked down on.
Joana Choumali say that she chose the studio portriat format to take the portraits to make her shots completely neutral and leave the reaction and interpretation to the viewer.
Curious too to think that as the traditional use of scarification declines in West Africa, tattoing and other body modification becomes more and more fashionable in western countries.
Thanks to my good friend Millie for recommending the exhibition, at the 50 Golborne Gallery where she currently works.