Floriane de Lassee
Women in Africa
+August 15, 2019
French photographer Floriane de Lassée has been adding to her Women in Africa Project, an ongoing project since 2017. Portraiture of women and girls, current leaders and leaders of tomorrow are superimposed with abstract patterns that represent fabric, specifically of wax prints. Wax prints are colorful cloths made from cotton with batik-inspired printing. They have been both hand and industrially produced by women in Africa. Batik is a technique of wax-resist dyeing that has been used all over the Middle East, India, Central Asia and Africa. Specialized tools are used to draw lines and dots, the wax is then removed by boiling the fabric.
The subjects Floriane has photographed for this series are a mix of high school students, school age girls, and African women leaders from different countries in Africa. Over 30 women and three generations have been photographed through this project. The young girls, despite their age have a passion and drive all their own to make changes in the world. Floriane is awaiting funding to be able to continue with Women in Africa. She hopes to turn the project into a book after photographing 50 women.
The prints on these garments have a significance all their own. The overlying patterns were developed for and to reflect important cultural events and milestones. After taking each woman’s portrait, Floriane digitally adds an overlay that is a replication of batik wax prints. “I make their portraits and with the reprography of a hundred of WAX, I mix them digitally as a palimpsest.” Her final images showcase the bright colors these fabrics are known for.
Through the production of these garments, women have been able to earn a comfortable living. In Togo, after years of hard work and coming from nothing, several women became the first female billionaires on the continent of Africa. They had the first Mercedes Benz cars imported and were nicknamed Nana Benz of Togo. Many of the Nana Benz became involved in politics or traveled internationally for business. Their wealth turned them into cultural icons.
Women in Africa aims to shine a light on the integrity of these talented adult women while giving a platform to young girls by underlining that they too, are strong and radiant. The older generations work incredibly hard, opening a door to give a safer and more hopeful future to the younger generations.