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“Self-portraiture is a way of writing without words. My aim is to reveal the deepest parts of myself.”
Hélène Amouzou plays with the photographic medium to create ephemeral and ghostly self-portraits. She captures herself or her belongings (often her clothes) in an empty room with peeling floral wallpaper. In many of the images she includes a suitcase as a recurrent symbol of her state of flux and transit. The photographs were taken during a two year period when Amouzou was seeking asylum in Belgium and waiting for her official residency visa.
Amouzou acknowledges the influence of American photographer Francesca Woodman (1958 – 81) but she produces her own distinctive and haunting imagery, which speaks of the contemporary issue of the displacement of people and those in exile. She works with film rather than digital media, preferring the effects of chance and serendipity and she exploits the use of long exposures.
These photographs reveal a constant questioning and search for the subject’s identity. Notions of freedom and legitimacy are explored in a world of bureaucracy and inequalities. Amouzou captures feelings of exclusion and feeling stigmatised by the lengthy official process. Those with permanent residency rights can only imagine the insecurity and daily worry of the possibility of being sent back to an unsafe place and the photographs reveal this sense of impermanence. Her ghostly image haunts each frame and hovers in the no man’s land between absence and presence.
Born in 1969 in Togo. She now lives and works in Brussels, Belgium. She is currently studying at the Academy of Drawing and Visual Arts of Molenbeek-St-Jean.
Her practice is photography based.
Previous shows include Bozar de Mons in Belgium in 2011/12; Faculté Universitaire Saint Louis in Belgium in 2012; Centre de la Papisserie in Belgium in 2012; Photoquai 2011, Paris; Marché de la photo, Brussels 2010.