Hélène jayet 31 project

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

Hélène Jayet's work, mixing drawing and photography, questions colonial history and the arbitrary place attributed by societies to individuals. Her photographic research began with a study of Afro hair, carried out through encounters, her models having African origins in common. This first investigation, Chin-up - colored only!, parallels the work 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. Contrary to Zagoursky's voyeuristic gaze, Hélène Jayet proposes an approach that is similar to a performance. Her project includes both the photographic act and the deployment of the photographic studio, the discussion with her subjects, always Afro-descendants, and the proposal, as a whole, to raise their heads proudly (chin-up!). First exhibited in 2013, the Chin-up - colored only! series continues to grow and offers Afro-descendants a space to take their image in hand. It plunges us 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-up!


Since this work, the artist has returned to drawing and developed a new style. Starting with images gleaned from historical works, photographs or the canvas, Hélène Jayet reinterprets, blackening her Canson, point by point, until the original image is blurred, forcing us to take a step back. An extension of her photographs, this practice transforms the pixels of the prints into a series of ink stains, which sometimes densely populate her sheets, and recreate imaginary landscapes. Realistic or abstract, these drawings are intimate. They trace the history of a memory and an identity that are specific to the artist, and travel between Mali and the Basque country, from the musical breath to Béjart's dance steps.  

The latter, developed during residencies in Dakar, Bamako or Ifitri in Morocco in 2019, are being exhibited 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


Chroniques Maliennes, « I love Africa », Festival de la Gacilly-Baden - Austria



Chroniques Maliennes, « I love Africa », Festival de la Gacilly France - France



Adoptés, L’origine de l’histoire, Enfance et Famille d’adoption, Sisteron - France 

Colored Only,  Summer of photography, Alliance Française de Bruxelles - Belgium



Colored Only, Espace Transit, Montpellier - France

Adoptés, L’origine de l’histoire, Conseil Général Haute-Garonne Toulouse - France

Adoptés, L’origine de l’histoire, Les Olivetains, Saint-Bertrand de Comminges - France

GROUP SHOWS - Selection


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, Wales - 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, Biennale de Luang Prabang OFF, Luang Prabang - Laos



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



École Image ouverte – Photographie

École Emi – Cfd, Paris - Photojournalisme



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