Born in 1960 in Paris, Sophie Elbaz left to Mexico in 1980 where she took her first photographs. She spent a whole year between Guatemala and Mexico. Upon her return to Paris, she decided to leave for the States in 1983 where she assisted the American artists Ernestine Ruben, Patrick Demarchelier and Gilles Peress.
In 1984, she was accepted in the intensive photojournalism program of F. Ritchin, then Picture Editor at the New York Times, at the International Center of Photography (I.C.P.) in New York In 1986, she was given her first reporter assignment by Reuters to cover West Africa where she was charged with current events in twenty-two African countries. Africa would be a veritable initiation which resonated in her deeper self. In 1989, she joined the Sygma agency after working as a reporter in India. She would be the only woman in the Sygma «news magazine» department and report on critical events that strongly influenced her vision of life. During the Balkan war, thanks to a grant “Villa Medicis hors les murs”, she spent three years constructing «Contre toute attente» (Against all expectations), a black-and-white photographic essay exposed at many festival or Museum.
The next year, she parted with the world of photo agencies to engage in a more personal creative project, “Mémoire d’Elles”, which began in 1996 with the support of AFAA (rebaptized Cultures France), an intimate mosaic on four generations of French women during the course of a century.
A book went to print in 1998, soon followed by two itinerant exhibitions, which travelled through the French cultural network from the Middle-East to Africa until 2003.
In 1995, she also discovered Cuba. In her own rendering of the Garcia Lorca opera house in Havana, a set of photos that would be widely exhibited .
From 2000 to 2005, she devoted herself entirely to her artistic work and has been developing a technique allowing her to rework pictures using organic components. This experimentation allows her to transform the images from her travels. This led her to bring a completely different world of imagination into her work, a world of emotion derived from a process of subtraction in which chemistry gradually changes fixed notions of what a photograph is.
Origines, an African serie of these «metamorphoses», initially exhibited during a festival in Bamako in 2003, were also displayed in Barcelona, Milan, Berne and Paris during 2004.
In 2006, she presented the Indian series: “Were are you about ?” By this new set of images done in different environment, she lived a transcendence of inner violence while she was enduring the process of disease during 18 months.
In 2007, Sophie Elbaz was invited to participate in the 8th Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates. The Biennial’s theme focused on the environment. Elbaz set out to produce an organic photographic work, reinforcing the idea of the contamination of the environment throughout time. It is entitled I Accuse.
In 2007, I went to Constantine in search of my Sephardic origins on my father’s side. There, I made an initial, poetic film in memory of my grandfather, Jonathan Elbaz, and the Île fantastique triptych.
In 2008, The others side of the self (L’envers de soi) includes some of the most significant work from the photographic career of Sophie Elbaz was presented at the prestigeous European Center for Photography (MEP), Paris, France from june to september 2008. She presents her more recent work under a trilogy entitled Aleyo, on the theme of the Sacred, the Body, and Politics.
In 2012, Interior Geographies is shown at The MAHJ, The Museum of Arts and History of Judaïsm for the Month of Photography in Paris. The exhibition is divided into four distinct spaces and combining photographs, videos and family archives, it describes the process by which the artist has reappropriated her family history.
The several trips she made to Constantine and Algeria gave rise to a complex, ecstatic then painful confrontation with reality.
It is with an entirely new vision, drawing on images from the past and those she created herself, that she is now expressing both her enchantment and disenchantment, the driving forces of a singular and extremely personal work.
2012: Inner Geographies, Month of Photogrpahy, Museum of art and history of Judaïsm, Paris.
2010: Qacentina is presented at AP’art , Art Festival at the Château des Alpîlles à Saint-Rémy de Provence, France.
2009: El Lorca at the Raum Gallery, Bern, Switzerland.
Dreams of the Earth, is presented during the Month of Photography, at PhotoRio in Rio, Brazil
2008: L’envers de soi (The others side of the self ) includes some of the most significant work from the photographic career of Sophie Elbaz. is presented at the European Center for Photography (MEP), Paris, France.
Parution of the book Aleyo – Ed – Images en Manoeuvres
Qacentina, Video12mm made in Algeria.
Aleyo at the Gallery Seine 51 in Paris.
Three months residencey in Rio, Brazil.
Origins et where are you about ? shown at the CCF* of Alger, Algeria.
2007: Origins and How far along are you ? will be exposed at the French Cultural Center, Alger, Algeria.
Artist residency in Constantine, Algeria.
2006: How far along are you? Exhibition at the Raum Gallery, Bern, Switzerland
Origins. Exhibition at the AFD (French agency of development) in Paris.
2004: Caracaos, Museum of Contemporary Art, Maracaïbo, Venezuela.
2003: Caracaos, Exhibition at the National Gallery, Fine Art Museum, Caracas, Venezuela.
Origins, Exhibition at the 5th Bamako Biennial, Bamako, Mali.
Origins presented at l’Espace Lhomond, Swiss Oceanic Institute ( tied with Schlumberger,
Neuflize Bank and Mallet-Art), in Paris.
A Time for living, for the city of Marseille exhibited at the Fnac in Marseille for woman’ day.
2002: Memory of Theirs, exhibition at French Cultural Centers in Bahrein and United Emirats and Qatar.
At the Peace festival in Salvador.
Presented in Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and in Guatamala, Bolivia.
16 Districts, 16 Families, Photographic creation ordered by the delegation of the Family Action and Rights of Woman of the Ville de Marseille, presented by the town during the week for woman.
2001: Memory of Theirs, Exhibition for the Photographic Month at Tunis, Tunisia.
Memory of Theirs, exposed at the Art Center at Bagdad, Irak, Cultural Centers of Beyrouth, Tripoli, Deir and Kamar, Saïda, Tyr and Nabatieh, Libanon.
Memory of Theirs exposed at the French Cultural Centers of Haïti and Saint-Domingue.
Memory of Theirs, Exhibition at the central library of the university of Caracas and invited at a women symposium, Venezuela.
2000: Memory of Theirs, Exhibition at the Cultural Centers of Damas, Lahaquieh, Tartous, Gallery le Pont in Alep, Association of Fine Arts at Homs, Syria and at Aman in Jordan.
1999: Memory of Theirs, presented City Hall of Orleans within the framework of the Forum for Human Rights, France.
Against all expectation follows the Theater play of Olivier Py, « Requiem for Sebrenica », in Orleans, Paris and Geneva.
EL Lorca, exhibition at the National Center for Photography, Geneva, Switzerland.
1997: African feminity, Exhibition at Pictorial Service for the Month of Photography, Paris, France.
1996: Against all expectation,Exhibition at the Cetinje Biennial, Montenegro, Only Biennial for contemporary art in the East.
1995 Against all expectation Exhibition at KODAK ,Paris.
Against all expectation Exhibition at the Museum of Orange, France.
1994: Against all expectation Exhibition at Visa pour l’Image, Perpignan, France
Selected group exhibitions
2011: Group show « Carthography » , Algerian Memories, at Cornerhouse, Manchester ,England.
2007: 8th Sharjah biennial, Emirats Arab united.
2005: Origins, exhibition at the French Institute in Joannesburg, South Africa.
How far along are you? Collective exhibition at the Vantabren Contemporary Art, Aix in Provence, France
2005: Origins, exhibition at the French Cultural Center of Kinshasa, Congo.
2004: Origins, exhibition at the City Hall of Saint-Denis, Reunion Island.
2004: Origins, exhibition at the Contemporary Cultural Center, CCB of Barcelone, Espagne.
2004: Origins, exhibition «Made in Africa» at the Porte Romana Museum, Milan, Italy.
2004: Origins, exhibition at the Kornhausforum Museum, Bern, Switzerland.
2003: Origins, exhibition with Alfons Alt at the Lhomond Space in Paris, France.
2003: Buffalo Caravan, Modern Art Museum Arhuskunstmuseum, Denmark.
Buffalo caravan at la Friche Belle de Mai, Marseille, France.
2008: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 3 months. Maison de France and the City of Rio for the year of Francein Brazil.
2007: Constantine, Algeria.1 month. CCF, French Cultural Center.
2003: Caracas, Venezuela. 2 months. Fondation Llama.
Qacentina, Video,12mm – 2008
Marisa Paolucci “African Self-portraits”, Il Manifesto, April 4th 2004.
Michket Krifa “Recovered Images”, Paris Photo Magazin, February/March 2003 n°24.
Simon N’Njami “Bamako or Africa as it looks at itself” Le Monde 2 n° 33 october 2003
Maryline Crivello “Vision of war” La pensée de midi/Acte sud N°9 winter 2002
“Living in Exile” American photo, September/October 1996.
Bernard Cier, philosopher, “The coming scene” text for the exhibition, «How far along are you?» november 2004
2008: Publication of the monography, ALEYO, 112 pages. Editions Images en Manoeuvre.
Texts, JL Monterosso, director of the European Center for Photography (MEP), Paris, Alain
Borer, philosopher and Seloua Luste Boulbina, philosopher
2005: Publication of the book, Origins, in collaboration with the architects Moatti & Riviere presenting JPGaultier’s house of haute couture in Paris.
2004: “325 rue Saint-Martin”, Realisation of a unique book offered to JP Gaultier on the metamorphosis of the site.
2003: ART SUD published, Caracaos, text and portfolio by Sophie Elbaz.
1998: Publication of the book, Memory of theirs, Editions Points de suspension
Texts by Catherine Trautmann, Ministre of Culture, Françoise Heritier, Professor au collège de France, Paris.
1997: El Lorca, Publication of 25 pages in Geo-Korea, may 1997 n°6
Publication in various international magazines like Time, Paris-Match, Stern etc…
“Fax Culture” presented “El Lorca”. Swiss Television 1999
“Fax Culture” presented “Contre toute attente” Swiss Television 1997
“Against all expectation” on LCI, (cable chain of information), France.1995
Canadian Television: The future of photojournalism in 1994
“Le Déclic de Sophie” portrait realized by Décryptage, FR3, France.
France 3 Marseille et M6 Marseille : “16 portraits, 16 districts”.
Museum of art and history of Judaïsm.
Maison Européenne de la Photographie (MEP) in Paris.
Ariane de Rothschild.
France Telecom ,New-York, USA.
Jean-Paul Gaultier, Paris.
Private collectioners in Paris, London, New-York, Milan, Berne.