Crédit photo : “Odyssée” courtesy Eddy Dagher
Abidjan is my home, it’s where I live and it’s a place that really inspires me. I chose the name L’Abidjanaise because it’s what I am and what I claim myself to be. The idea behind the project was to display the Abidjan that I see, the Abidjan that people often don’t get to see. I present it in the form of little scenes: mixing fashion, art with an hint of African aesthetics in the visuals. I do the styling, the artistic direction and then I work with photographers friends.
What pushed you to launch the project?
I really didn’t have much of a choice actually. I had these ideas which became an obsession and I needed to get them out of my system. My blog is the vehicle that I use to express my creative urges. I was also inspired by the work of certain collectives like the South Africans I See A Different You and the Kenyans 2ManySiblings who have created a real dynamic.
What ideas or values do you try to promote with your project?
My goal is to produce a more meaningful image of Ivory Coast, to revitalize the narrative surrounding African identity. It’s kind of a way for me to contribute to Africa’s “rebranding”. With all the wars and famine, Western media usually tends to show a negative reflection of Africa. But this Africa is much more than that! We’re an ambitious, creative and resilient youth; people who are open-minded and want to get it right. Some even manage to do great things with little or limited means.
Crédit photo : “Tirailleur” courtesy Eddy Dagher
What are your favourites themes to explore?
I started off taking random pictures around the city of Abidjan, with no particular concept. Then I decided to work with themes series. For example, O.D.Y.S.S.E.E addresses the quest for inner identity and the possibility to get out of our comfort zone, to discover who we are and the magic we possess. It’s a theme that I work on everyday, but I’ve realised it’s quite universal because it grabbed the attention of people around me. There is also the Akôbô System series which is a visual essay on African sartorial identities.
By the way, how is the Ivorian art scene?
It’s doing rather well. It’s growing with a new generation of artists, like Paul Sika, Loza Maleombho or Aboudia, who are producing a contemporary art that combines pop culture and global motifs with our African traditions and identities. This art is open to the world. Nowadays, I think we can say that artistic creation is for anybody, it’s no longer just for the elite who studies Fine Arts. Quite the opposite, each one of us has that little creative spark to explore.