Scarlett Coten is an independent french female photographer.
She lives in Paris and works in North Africa and the Middle East.
After studying photography at the ENSP in Arles, she regularly publish in national and international press.
In 2000 she traveled to Egypt to realize her first feature documentary, spending months through the Sinai desert with the Bedouins.
Her strong attachment to this people and their stories, and her immersion in the Bedouin society, bring a unique and remarkable intimacy to this work. This series, produced over three years , was published in 2009 in her first book, Still alive. In 2004 it was awarded the Humanity Photo Award in Beijing, China, and in 2009 nominated at the NYPH Festival in the Book caregory.
Since then, she has worked predominantly on long-term projects.
Arab culture has so fascinated her that for over a decade it has been the main theme of her photography.
Between 2009 and 2011, her involvement in Arabic territories brings her to focus on a Morocco in the midst of transformation. With "Maroc Evolution" she have chronicled in a small seaside resort, an intimate visuel diary about the evolution of the new generation divided between powerful traditions and a desire for emancipation. This series, symbolic of a Morocco in mutation, was undertaken with plastic cameras, the toy-like appearance was often useful to get beyond people's habitual refusal to be photographed, even more so on the beach, and helped to convince people in a country where a picture is still a taboo.
Since 2012, Scarlett Coten captures men in Morocco, Egypt, Palestine and Algeria, particularly the young urban generation who, since 2011, not only demand more individual freedom, but expose themselves in the intimacy of a face to face, and challenge the western world vision we have of the Arab man.
Scarlett's work is represented by East Wing Gallery (Doha/Dubai), M.I.A Gallery (Seattle) and Gallery 127 (Marrakech)
“Mectoub” focuses on men from Arab countries and the Mediterranean world, and particularly the young urban generation.
Since spring 2011, these young men, caught up in violent current events, have been striving for more individual freedom, at times putting their lives at risk in order to experience their deepest aspirations freely. My hope was to meet them away from the tumult and despair of the front lines.
I didn’t know if being foreign encouraged them to express themselves freely or not, but I embarked upon this adventure in Moroccan cities first, then Egypt in 2013, and in Palestine and in Algeria in 2014.
I approach men instinctively, for what they emanate. I explain that I want to take their photograph as an attempt to show them just as they are, to be sure of avoiding clichés, and that this project is an alternative to the attention that is often focused on the situation of women in their country.
I meet them in a place that I’ve found, any setting that inspires me and says something about the country we’re in. I let them relax until they let go and start to reveal themselves, to open their hearts within this confidential context. In countries where individual freedom takes place almost entirely behind closed doors, exposing yourself is a courageous act, even rebellious.
This project is a pretext for meeting these men, and the meetings are a pretext for describing the men and their country, by means of a lived experience. The result is an intimate documentary in which the dialogue between portraits and places creates a heightened reality and allows the viewer to see these regions of the world through the prism of my own subjectivity.
"Mectoub" explores concepts surrounding identity, desire, memory and borders in complex societies, in which the question of individual freedom, gender and sexuality are part of the demands which are at the origin of the massive political, economic and social transformations that these countries are currently going through.