Héla Ammar is a trained artist and holds a PhD in Law. Ammar’s work challenges social issues, injustices, such as the prison environment in Tunisia.
Developing the photography book ‘Corridors’, the artist accumulated testimonies of prisoners alongside photos taken by her inside the prisons.
Tunisia sits at the core of the artist’s work, and within her art, societal norms and politics are explored.
Ammar has throughout her art delved into the notions of identity and memory, the artist’s own family history, such as with her work ‘Love Letters’, colonialism, the relationship between Tunisia and France, and The Tunisian Revolution.
In Ammar’s recent body of work ‘Legacy’, exhibited with Musk and Amber gallery at MENART Fair at the Palais d’IENA in September 2023, the artist’s impressive photography explores the notion of feminine identity in Mediterranean Arabic cultures, looking at representation, beauty, Orientalism, as well as referencing the status quo.
Layers of history are reflected on within each frame, Ammar’s art drawing the viewer into further examining the ideas that sit behind each portraiture, each majestic sitter. The setting, ornaments, calligraphy, the transparent effect, the alluring photography series, create a visual that blurs itself between past and present. The artist's photographic language confronts Orientalism. Portraiture that breathes in and out the issues Héla Ammar’s art raises, setting a powerful art adorned with politics.
A selection of her photographs and installations is part of the permanent collection of the British Museum (London), the Arab World Institute (Paris), the A.Slaoui Foundation’s Museum (Casablanca).
Her work has been showcased in various international biennals and exhibitions such as Reflections at The British Museum (London 2021), The refugee week at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London 2019), Beyond borders at the Boghossian Foundation (Brussels, 2019), Mara’ina at the King Abdulaziz Center of Art and Culture, (Ithra, Saudi Arabia, 2019), The Biennal of the contemporary arab world photographers (Arab World Institute, Paris (France 2017), Dak’art Biennal (Senegal 2014, 2016), « Fragments d’une Tunisie contemporaine » MuCem (Marseille, France 2015), Addis Photo Fest (Ethiopia 2016, 2018), Bamako Encounters (Mali, 2015, 2017), Something Else, Off Biennal Cairo (Egypt 2015), International Photography Encounters of Fes (Morocco, 2015), the 27th Instants Vidéo (Festival numérique et poétique (Marseille 2014, 2016, 2018), World Nomads New York ( USA, 2013), Les rencontres photographiques d’Arles (France, 2013), Dream City (Tunisia, 2010, 2012 , 2017 and 2022).
Click on each image for details of artworks