Hellen Gaudence


Artist Statement

My photography and videos are an exploration of the imposition of place on identity. I am invested in African blackness and the movement of their bodies across social spaces outside of their homelands; I’m creating a collection of images and stories that speaks to experiences of a historically complex identity. Shuttling across national borders and cultures – first as a young child living away from my home in Tanzania to attend boarding school in Kenya and now a woman that recently migrated to the United States, has birthed a constant internal assessment of my accessibility and relationship to the social landscape in a foreign space. My work questions access – how does a specific place provide African bodies admission and to what degree. I’m reflecting the black African body’s pursuit to orient and negotiate in disparate spaces while remaining faithful to its source. The results measure the assorted experiences of uprooted black Africans – including those whose free movement made through their own authority, as well as those whose migrations were caused by push factors. Through documentary and staged photography, as well as video art, I forward insights to African experiences – enriching knowledge of nuanced black identities, by means of performance, formal portraiture and the candidness of everyday moments.

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