Hélène Amouzou

Hélène Amouzou
Hélène Amouzou, Series: Auto-portrait 2008/09

‘Self-portraiture is a way of writing without words. My aim is to reveal the deepest parts of myself.’ 1

Hélène Amouzou works with the medium of photography 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 of being stigmatised by the lengthy official process. Those with permanent residency rights can only imagine the insecurity and daily worry about the possibility of being sent back to an unsafe place and Amouzou’s photographs reveal this sense of impermanence. Her ghostly image haunts each frame and hovers in the no man’s land between absence and presence.

1 Featured in Hélène Amouzou:Autoportraits, 15 September 2011, Another Africa. [accessed 12 January 2012].


Currently studying at the Academy of Drawing and Visual Arts of Molenbeek-St-Jean, Belgium.

Previous shows include Reflections on the Self: Five African Women Photographers, a Hayward Touring exhibition, UK; Bozar de Mons, Belgium, 2011/12; Faculté Universitaire Saint Louis, Belgium, 2012; Centre de la Papisserie, Belgium, 2012; Photoquai, Paris, France, 2011; Marché de la photo, Brussels, Belgium, 2010.

Works in the show

Serie Auto-portrait 2008/09
Photography, 40x50cm approx
Image courtesy of the artist


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