Hélène Amouzou

Year and place of birth: 1969 , Togo Location: Sint-Jans-Molenbeek (Brussels), Belgium
Helene Amouzou 12 2009

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Hélène Amouzou was born in the West African republic Togo. In 2004 she went to study photography and video at the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek Academy of Drawing and Visual arts in Brussels, where she still lives and works today.

Over the course of the ten-year period that Amouzou spent waiting to be granted asylum in Belgium, she made a series of analogue self-portraits. These captivating works play with the notion of sight and invisibility, thus expressing the artist’s uncertain existence. Her lack of recognition, stigmatisation and marginalised position sometimes translate into a blurring and haziness. In other images, the artist shuts away herself or her possessions – for example clothing or suitcases – in an empty attic room, waiting for the moment when she will once again be able to reinsert these into a home. Finally, she also tries to explore her changing relationship to African culture through traditional costume and objects. The slow method of the photography chimes with the meditative nature of Amouzou’s practice and the limited resources with which these photographs were created.

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, in spring 2020 the Photography Museum of Antwerp (FOMU) nominated Amouzou for a grant that took her back to her native country Togo for the first time in 25 years. This trip resulted in the exhibition Entre Temps (2021), which not only documented her Togolese family and friends, but was also a self-portrait of a migrant who is imprisoned between two worlds. Just like her previously acclaimed work, collected in the book Entre le papier peint et le mur (2009), published by the Belgian label Husson Editeur, this series was a reflection on identity and on belonging somewhere. Amouzou’s self-portraits have been exhibited in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

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