The French photographer and filmmaker Valérie Jouve was born in Saint-Etienne in 1964. She currently divides her time between Paris and the Aveyron. A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles, Jouve originally studied sociology before concentrating on photography.
The urban world has been one of the central themes in Jouve’s work. Fascinated by the city, she focuses on its characters and their behaviour, capturing the everyday representation that our projections construct across the city. The questions of the treatment of space and of the relation to movement are at the heart of her images: the point is to understand how the figure bestows a presence on its surroundings. Architecture acts here as an emblematic form of the space that individuals allows themselves in order to exist. The discrepancy between collective and individual consciousness is thus articulated in aesthetic terms. But today our cities are choking, and that is why over the last few years Jouve has begun to make her images outside the cities, as if to do away with the frontiers between urban and natural landscapes, between city and countryside, which are now too marked.
In connection and in parallel with her artistic activity, she teaches at the École Nationale d’Architecture de Paris la Villette. With Hugues Reip and Stéphanie Nava she initiated a seminar on “Philosophy Art Architecture,” focusing on architecture films. She has worked with architects on a number of different photographic commissions in relation to architecture and the city.
Her exhibitions are often conceived as visual compositions, in time with a specific place. The images are constructed independently and then used in montages for exhibitions. This was the case in her latest retrospectives at Jeu de Paume in 2015 or again at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint Etienne in 2018.
She added filmmaking to her practice in 2001 and since then she has combined photography and filmed sequences. She believes that these two recording tools can work together rather than turn their backs on each other.
Since her first exhibition at the MAC, Marseille, in 1995, Jouve has taken part in numerous exhibitions in Europe and the United States. In 2010 she was given a solo show at the Pompidou Centre, where she presented a first ensemble of photographs taken in the Palestinian territories. Her first film, Grand Littoral, made in 2003, featured in numerous festivals and was shown at MOMA, New York, in 2004. It won the Prix Georges Beauregard at the Festival International du Film Documentaire in Marseille. In 2007 her third film Münster Lands was shown in Münster (Germany) as part of Skulptur Projekte 07. She has just brought out her latest film Blues, co-produced with Arte.
The FRAC Basse Normandie gave her a solo show in 2011, following others at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany, in 2005, IAC Villeurbanne in 2003, and the Winterthur Museum, Switzerland in 2002. Her works are held in major public collections, including the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MAC / VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine, the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany, NSM Vie/ABN-AMRO Foundation, Stedeljik Museum, Amsterdam, and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Valérie Jouve is currently represented by Galerie Xippas in Paris.