Hélène jayet 31 project

Born in 1977 in Île de France, lives and works in Montpellier.

Mixing drawing and photography, Hélène Jayet's work questions colonial history and the arbitrary status given to individuals by societies. Her photographic research began with a study of Afro hair, carried out through encounters with models whose common point is their African origins.


This first research, Chin-up - colored only!, is a counterpoint to that of Casimir Zagoursky who, at the beginning of the century, photographed the richness of the indigenous hairstyles of Africa, immortalizing them in his numerous travel diaries. In contrast to Zagoursky's voyeuristic perspective, Hélène Jayet presents an approach that resembles a performance. Her project includes both the photographic act and the set-up phase in the studio: the discussions with the people she is portraying - who are always Afro-descendants - and the general invitation to proudly raise their heads (chin-up!)


First exhibited in 2013, the Chin-up - colored only! series continues to grow and offers a space for Afro-descendants to take control of their image. The series dives into an African iconographic history that colonisation has transformed into a series of acts of predation, and proposes a way out... By raising the chin!


From this work, the artist has returned to drawing and developed a new style. Starting with images gleaned from historical works, photographs or canvases, Hélène Jayet reinterprets, blackening her Canson, point by point, until the original image is blurred, forcing us to step back.


An extension of her photographic work, this practice transforms the pixels of the prints into a series of ink stains, which are sometimes densely populated on her sheets, and recreates imaginary landscapes. Realistic or abstract, these drawings are intimate. They trace the memory and identity of the artist, and travel between Mali and the Basque country, from music to dance of Béjart. 

The latter, developed during residencies in Dakar, Bamako or Ifitri in Morocco in 2019, were shown for the first time in Paris. The artist's photographs have been exhibited at the La Gacilly festival, the Zinsou Foundation in Benin, the Rencontres photographiques de Guyane, the Bamako and Dakar biennials, as well as at the Macaal in Marrakech, the BOZAR museum in Brussels and the Afrikan Museum in the Netherlands. 



SOLO SHOWS | Selection


Colored Only, Africa 2020, Halle Tropisme, Montpellier – France
Colored Only, Galerie La Chambre Claire, Université Rennes 2 – France
ESSENTIEL, Action du MO.CO, Montpellier – France


Colored Only, Galerie Véronique Rieffel, Bushman Café,

Abidjan – Ivory Coast


Colored Only, Studio live, Afropea Massilia, Friche Belle de Mai,

Marseille – France
Chroniques Maliennes, «I love Africa» Festival de la Gacilly Baden – Austria


Colored Only, Rencontres Photographiques du 10 eme, Paris – France
Chroniques Maliennes, «I love Africa» Festival de la Gacilly – France


Colored Only, Alliance Française, Summer of Photography,

Bruxelles – Belgium


Adoptés, Conseil Général de Haute-Garonne, Toulouse – France
Adoptés, Les Olivétains, Saint-Bertrand de Comminges – France


Chroniques Maliennes, Festival du Scoop et journalisme, Angers – France

GROUP SHOWS | Selection


Colored Only - "A corps perdu" Cité des Arts de la Réunion, Saint-Denis



SMALL, 31 PROJECT, Paris – France

Galeristes, 31 PROJECT, Paris – France

Messe pour le temps présent, variations (curated by : Charlotte Lidon),

31 PROJECT, Paris – France



Colored Only, Biennale Africaine de Bamako « Afrotopia » Afrikan Museum, The Netherlands

Colored Only, « The politics of images », Festival Foto International

Ipatinga – Brazil

Colored Only, BRIDGE Off Biennale de Dakar, Musée de la photographie de Saint-Louis – Senegal 

Colored Only, « Africa is no Island », Musée d’Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden, Marrakech – Morocco 



Colored Only, Biennale Africaine de Bamako « Afrotopia », Musée National du Mali - Mali

Colored Only, Rencontres Photographiques du 10 eme, Paris – France

Colored Only, « The politics of images », Festival Foto International Belo Horizonte – Brazil 



Colored Only, Embodied Spaces, Gallery Framer Framed,

Amsterdam – The Netherlands



Colored Only, La parole aux femmes, Fondation Blachère, Apt – France

Colored Only,  « Where we’re at – others voices of gender », Summer of photography BOZAR Brussels – Belgium

Colored Only, Festival ÉMOI photographique d’Angoulême – France


Chroniques maliennes,  Distant Horizons, Third Floor Gallery, Cardiff, – UK



Nous Somme(s) Transphotographiques NORD[S], Tri postal Lille – France

Colored Only, Festival Fotografia Europea Reggio Emilia – Italy

Colored Only,  Circulation(s), Jardins de Bagatelle, Paris – France



Chroniques Maliennes, Luang Prabang OFF Biennale , Luang Prabang – Laos



Chroniques Maliennes, International Scoop and Journalism Festival,

Angers – France



École Image ouverte – Photography

École Emi – Cfd, Paris - Photojournalism



École des Beaux-arts de Montpellier – Arts plastiques



Messe pour le temps présent



SMALL, group show

Messe pour le temps présent, group show, commissariat Charlotte Lidon



Galeristes, Paris