Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

“I felt that if I survived the war [Ivory Coast Civil War, 2012], it was my responsibility to do what I had come on earth to do, to come true to myself. I felt the urge to live life to the fullest. Art can open minds, open a dialogue between communities, an artist can make a testimony, and unite people around his pieces.”

– Joana Choumali, FINALIST


The photographic series “Adorn” deals with contemporary Senegalese women reinterpreting European beauty standards with modern makeup. Choumali used to see pictures online of women in Mali and Senegal in extravagant makeup, where they had shaved eyebrows redrawn with henna or permanent tattoos, excessive powder foundation and copious amounts of blush on their prominent cheekbones. They redesigned their lips with a dark brown pencil and then covered them with bright gloss. While some

While some criticise this ornate makeup and unnatural look, Choumali considers these women as artists in their own right, with limitless creativity. In ’embellishing’ themselves, they embellish their reality.

Censorship and tasteful codes do not matter. The most important thing is to be beautiful by any means possible – yet who defines what is beautiful or ugly? These daring artists of the ephemeral – despite facing criticism – create an image that, on their own terms, gives them the feeling of being valued, different, noteworthy. They are unapologetic.

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