Alongside the worlds of politics, culture and fashion, Françoise Huguier began to travel the world as a place of encounters, magnetized by the diversity of cultures and societies. Whether in Europe, Africa or Asia, she has the same singular and graphic eye that never lacks humor.
In 1989, she traveled the African continent in the footsteps of Michel Leiris. A maiden voyage that inspired her first book, “Sur les traces de l’Afrique fantôme ”, (ed. Actes Sud, 1990) – winner of the Villa Medici outside the walls. Strengthened by the ties forged during this first stay, Françoise Huguier founded in 1994 the first Biennial of Photography in Bamako (Mali), which aims to promote contemporary African photography internationally. She also initiated photographic work in the intimacy of women in Burkina Faso and Mali (“Secrètes”, Actes Sud, 1996).
In 1993 she said a survey of the Russian territory with “En route pour Behring” (ed. Maeght), logbook of her solo trip to Siberia, winner of the Villa Medici outside the walls and a Word Press Photo. Pursuing her research on intimacy, social life and the traces of history, she stayed two months a year, between 2000 and 2007, in the community apartments of Saint Petersburg, revealing the survivals of the Soviet world as well as the meanders inherent in living together (“Kommunalki”, ed. Actes Sud, 2008 and “Kommunalka”, feature documentary, 2008).
Thirty years after her long journey to the Bering Strait, the photographer plunged back into her contact sheets and became aware of the already catastrophic pollution of the Arctic lands. Hence a new book, entitled “1992” and published by Odyssée editions, to testify to an ecological reality captured in an in-between of History.
Winner of numerous prestigious awards, Françoise Huguier received the insignia of Officer of Arts and Letters in 2012. Regularly exhibited in France and around the world, her work was the subject of a retrospective at the European House of Photography in 2014. In 2018, Reporters Without Borders devoted an album to her in the collection “100 photos for freedom of the press”. Alongside her activity as an artist photographer, she is also regularly called upon to curate exhibitions and biennales (Photoquai, Mois de la photographie à Paris, Biennale de Luang Prabang, etc.). In early 2023, she was appointed a member of the Academy of Fine Arts (photography section).
“In ten years of regular stays, Mali has become more familiar to Françoise Huguier than Brittany: she did not discover Africa through Leiris’ diary, and the changes that have occurred since the Dakar-Djibouti Mission are not her subject of astonishment. The “before-after” effect is not what is striking in the photographs she took at the rendezvous of Michel Leiris’ impressions of Africa. Her images do not say: this is no longer what it was, poor Africa etc. On the contrary, they support the “sentimental construction” of Leiris, and restore the “taste for the marvelous” which brought him to Africa.”
(Michel Cressole, in: “Sur les traces de l’Afrique Fantôme”)
Sur les traces de Françoise Huguier – De Durban à Behring
from June 1 to 30, 2023
27 rue Keller, Paris 11e
Opening Thursday, June 1 2023