01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  01  Back
Before the end of the 2016 US election, I left New York for Abidjan,Côte d’Ivoire to make films and photographs.
Never having been to Africa before, I moved blindly without visiting first. Although my French was minimal,
Abidjan somehow made more sense to me than the US. Photography became a passport into a different culture,
helping me transcend verbal communication barriers. These photographs represent my attempt to visually decipher
my new home and its idiosyncrasies. “You must take it slowly, Abidjan takes time”, the Ivorian photographer,
Ananias Leki Dago, advised me. I am, and I open and close my eyes to see what is and what is not apparent.

Young Ivorians is a layered subject. The idea of masculinity is represented by boys and young men flaunting their
sexuality, which can be interpreted as ambiguous and ambivalent, contrary to their intentions fueled by a hetero-
normative macho culture. The projection and perception of beauty is represented in the portraits of young women
wearing wigs to alter their images, thinking it makes them prettier according to European and Western concepts of
beauty. The “youth problem”— the elephant in the room —concerns the growing number of unemployed youth who
are stuck lingering, both mentally and physically, as they try to realize their goals and dreams, but struggle due to
a lack of opportunities. Considered a ticking time bomb, young Ivorians are vulnerable to be lured into violence
(often politically manipulated), drugs, terrorism, and other illicit acts, putting the country’s stability at risk leading up
to the 2020 presidential election—only the second since the civil war in 2010-2011. Despite their uncertain future,
a vitality persists among young Ivorians, of which I hope to show a glimpse.