Photographer Jessica Antola’s fashion-focused, slice-of-life work has graced the pages of AFAR magazine a number of times, including a much-loved photo essay in October 2015 that featured the vibrant colors and patterns of West Africa. Many of those photos were part of an ongoing (and not strictly sartorial) passion project that sparked during a 2011 trip to Senegal. That trip inspired another and then another. Eventually the project evolved into her first book, Circadian Landscape, a quietly intimate snapshot of everyday life in seven countries. The book launched on March 27, 2018, and we’ve already reserved a prominent spot on our coffee tables for it.
She continues, “Much of the book was photographed in rural areas where life’s day-to-day activities revolve around the daylight hours. Traveling by road showed me the overall lay of the land . . . and allowed me to connect the dots and see why people live in a particular region and how living in this location affects their way of life.”
The monograph is the result of three trips and countless hours of thought, research, and writing over the course of six years. “The first trip to Senegal in 2011 was only a week,” Antola says. “Then I spent a month traveling around Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivorie, Ghana, and Togo in 2014. The more I saw of Africa the more I wanted to see.”
While the photos speak for themselves, the book has engaging elements of travelogue as well. Antola weaves her reflections and experiences, which ranged from brief to deep, into detailed captions in the photo index.
Still other captions are more reflective. In the caption for the photo below, “Hamar Woman, Ethiopia 2013,” Antola muses on historical context. “Around 430 BCE, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of Libyan women in garments of goat leather with hair ‘fringed at the edges, and colored with vermilion.’ I was reminded of this in the Omo Valley when I saw Hamar women with their hair covered in a mixture of red ocher and ghee wearing beaded goat skins.”
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