Visual arts

Laura Henno

Dorothea Lange is one of the photographers who has always inspired me. She has a humanist approach that I too am trying to employ.

Behind her video or conventional camera, Laura Henno works to capture portraits and images of a world in motion.

Published on 26/03/2020

2 min

Born in 1976, Laura Henno studied photography and then film at Fresnoy. She travels around France and the world to photograph marginalised men and women, in portraits or scenes shot on the spot, or in quality documentary films, and has shown her work in numerous individual and collective exhibitions, such as at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in 2004, at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dunkirk in 2013, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Val-de-Marne in Vitry-sur-Seine in 2015 and at FRAC PACA (Regional Contemporary Arts Foundation) in Marseille in 2018.

The artist explains that she was struck by the work of Robert Frank and his The Americans series (1958), which inspired her to look closely at the margins.

A citizen of a world in motion, Laura Henno produces portraits and films in which documentary interest jostles against a careful aesthetic: perfect lighting, postures captured in all their theatricality and shades of colour that characterise the beauty and poetry of a singular, spontaneous testimony, which tells us about the living conditions of migrants and precarious communities...

On board small boats, as in her M’tsamboro series depicting young smugglers in the Comoros in 2017, or capturing migrants in Réunion, Calais and Rome in 2009-2012, Laura Henno focuses in particular on exiled populations – thus making her work international and highly topical.

Laura Henno regularly travels in the footsteps of the discreet, the erased, the forgotten. Inspired by Dorothea Lange and her images of the impoverishment caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s, the artist looks at the consequences and fallen hopes of global capitalism. Like her Rédemption (Redemption) series, set in the Californian desert in the heart of the precarious encampments of Slab City where she lived in a caravan for two months in 2017.

Her work is exported and exhibited in many countries, including Belgium, Italy and Finland (Taché-Lévy Gallery in Brussels in 2001, Francesca Aversa Gallery in Perugia in 2007 and the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki in 2010).

Her latest project – N’Dzuani, a documentary filmed in the Comoros and Mayotte – will be exhibited in Paris in 2021 at the Palais de Tokyo.

  • 2007


    Laura Henno receives the Louis Roederer Discovery Prize at the Arles Photography Festival.

  • 2018


    She shows her photo series M’Tsamboro at the Les Filles du Calvaire gallery in Paris, Rédemption at the Arles Photography Festival and Koropa at FRAC PACA in Marseille.

  • 2019


    She is awarded the SAM Prize For Contemporary Art, receiving €20,000 for her documentary project N’Dzuani.

  • 2020


    Thanks to the SAM Prize, Laura Henno goes to the Comoros and Mayotte to make her film about local illegal immigrants, the “Boucheman”.

  • 2021


    Her project N'Dzuani will be presented at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

The Institut français and the project

Laura Henno, winner of the SAM 2019 Prize, was in residency in the United States in 2016 with the support of the Institut français. Find out more about the Résidences Sur Mesure programme


L'institut français, LAB