This is the first UK solo exhibition of Hélène Amouzou's evocative self-portraits. These hand printed photographs are a crucial document of a migrant who has grappled with notions of freedom, exclusion, and bureaucracy – an attempt to recapture her identity and sense of belonging. Voyages raises important questions: What does it mean to seek refuge? What does belonging feel like? What does it mean to live in limbo? What burden does the body carry as a result? The Togolese-born, Belgium-based artist’s distinctive imagery is created through long exposures, contemplating the complex emotions of displacement and exile.
"Self-portraiture is a way of writing without words. My aim is to reveal the deepest parts of myself"
— Hélène Amouzou
Voyages brings together fifteen years of Amouzou's work. Autoportrait – Molenbeek (2007-2011) was created during a period when the artist was seeking asylum in Belgium, part of her two-decade long journey seeking safety and citizenship. In these charged portraits, she appears as an apparition amongst suitcases and the peeling floral wallpaper of a destitute attic: sitting, contemplating, standing, longing. Suitcases appear throughout Amouzou’s images, a reminder of the precarious situation that hundreds of thousands of people who have, like herself, been forced into movement across the globe due to political dissonance.
These works are shown alongside Amouzou’s most recent work Entre temps, Togo (2020-2021), translating to in the meantime, capturing the artist’s first journey back to her homeland in more than a quarter century.
Throughout Voyages, Amouzou’s elongated movements and extended exposures confront a sense of belonging and unbelonging, locating and dislocating – and a refusal of erasure.
Hélène Amouzou (b.1969, Togo) has become widely known for her distinctive autoportraits that explore contemporary issues of people in exile and those that have been invisibilised. Drawing on experiences of migration, borders and displacement, her highly technical analogue processes are integral to her research and artistic experiments.
In 2014 she completed her studies in photography at the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek Academy of Drawing and Visual arts in Brussels. Amouzou’s works have been shown internationally including solo exhibitions at CONTACT Photography Festival, Toronto (2023), Centre Cultural Jacques Franck, Brussels (2022); The Women’s Darkroom Gallery New York (2022); FoMU, Antwerp (2021), Maison des Cultures de Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels (2009) amongst others; and within group exhibitions including at Photo Ireland (2023); FotoFest Biennale, Houston (2020/2022); S.M.A.K, Gent (2022); Les Rencontres d’Arles, Arles (2021); Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Brooklyn (2018); Musée du Quai Branly, Paris (2011); Hayward Gallery, London (2011) amongst others. Her works are part of collections including the Brooklyn Museum (USA), March Gallery (USA), S.M.A.K (Belgium), SMART (Belgium) and the Tropenmuseum (Netherlands). She lives and works in Belgium.
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