Hélène Amouzou, from the series Autoportrait, Molenbeek, 2007-2011. Courtesy of the artist.
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Hélène Amouzou at Autograph gallery

Autograph presents the first UK solo exhibition of Hélène Amouzou from 22 September 2023 to 20 January 2024.

Entitled Voyages , the exhibition collates Amouzou’s photographs focused on themes of migration, identity, freedom and exclusion. Voyages  encourages the viewer to ask, What does belonging feel like? What does it mean to live in limbo?

Amouzou was born in Togo, West Africa, in 1969 and has been living in Brussels, Belgium for the last twenty years. Her imagery draws closely upon her life experiences: due to political conflict in Togo, Amouzou sought asylum in Belgium and spent two decades seeking safety and citizenship.

Amouzou’s photography is characterised by her use of long exposures, a photographic technique that involves capturing a single image over an extended period of time. This technique captures people in motion, producing ghostly and ephemeral figures. Here, one can identify the influence of acclaimed American photographer Francesca Woodman on Amouzou’s art. 

The apparition-like figures long exposure photography generates speak to issues of displacement and exile. It suggests a constant questioning and search for the subject’s identity. Amouzou captures feelings of exclusion and stigmatisation by the lengthy, bureaucratic process of claiming asylum and citizenship. 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 – figures in flux hover in the no-man’s land between absence and presence.

The exhibition displays Amouzou’s self-portraits. Amouzou says: ‘Self-portraiture is a way of writing without words. My aim is to reveal the deepest parts of myself.’

If you liked this, you may also enjoy Streets presents Nigel Henderson’s thoughtful photographs of the East End.

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