Autograph is developing 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.
Voyages will bring 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: Voyages will be at Autograph’s gallery in Shoreditch, London from 22 September 2023 - 20 January 2024. Free entry.
Curated by Bindi Vora.