Scarlett Coten is an independent French female photographer who dedicates herself essentially to personal, long term projects. The Arab countries are at the heart of her photographic practice, which explores the themes of identity and intimacy.
After studying at L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles, France, Coten traveled to Egypt in 2000 to realize her first important series, Still alive, 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 by Actes sud in 2009. Coten was awarded the Humanity Photo Award in 2004 in Beijing, China, and nominated at the NYPH Festival in 2009 for her book.
Since 2012, Scarlett Coten has been engaged in the ongoing project, Mectoub, photographing men in the Arab countries of the Mediterranean basin, travelling from North Africa to the Middle East. Mectoub challenges traditional notions of gender, concepts of masculinity and the men’s relationship to women. The series explores the men in this region in a deeply personal way, interweaving portraits and places. Coten plays with the idea of both staged and documentary genres while blending testimony with intimacy.
In Mectoub the camera itself has a gender and the feminine gaze holds a position of power, challenging the viewer to question traditional ideas of the overly predominant male gaze in the history of art.
Scarlett Cotten is the winner of the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack award 2016.