Photo London x National Portrait Gallery: Valérie Belin in conversation with Holly Roussell

Friday 17 May 2024
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
The Ondaatje Wing Theatre - National Portrait Gallery
St Martin's Place
London, WC2H 0HE

©Galatée 2023 (série Lady Stardust) Copyright Valérie Belin, Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Bruxelles


Join Valérie Belin, the Photo London Master of Photography 2024, in conversation with curator, Holly Roussell.

Valérie Belin’s extensive oeuvre has evolved in tandem with the field of photography and played a crucial role in its identity over the last three decades. In this conversation, Belin’s work will be discussed through the lens of what the artist considers her practice of “psychological portraiture” – addressing how the history of the genre, and the relationship between human and object, hold a key position within Belin’s practice from her earliest to most recent work.

In this conversation, Belin’s oeuvre will be discussed through the lens of what the artist considers her practice of “psychological portraiture” – addressing how the history of the portraiture genre, and the relationship between the human and object, an encounter between the animate and the inanimate, hold a key position within Belin’s practice from her earliest works to present.

The Photo London Master of Photography is presented every year to a living artist who has made an exceptional contribution to photography. The previous recipients are: Sebastiao Salgado (2015), Don McCullin (2016), Taryn Simon (2017) Edward Burtynsky (2018), Stephen Shore (2019), Shirin Neshat (2021), Nick Knight (2022) and Martin Parr (2023).

In partnership with National Portrait Gallery.


Ticket Price: £15 (£12 Members / concessions) (NOT INCLUDED with Photo London Ticket)


Please note, this talk is organised in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery and takes place outside the fair (at The Ondaatje Wing Theatre at the National Portrait Gallery). Photo London ticket holders still need to purchase a ticket using the link above to attend this talk separately. You do not need a Photo London pass to attend this talk. 




Valérie Belin graduated from the École Nationale des Beaux-arts in 1988, where she focused on American art of the ’60s and ’70s. She furthered her studies by pursuing philosophy of art at the Université Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris.

Her work has gained global recognition, with solo exhibitions held at prestigious institutions such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; amongst others. Her work is subject to a major retrospective at the Musée des Beaux-Art de Bordeaux from 24 April – 28 October 2024. Belin’s work investigates the tension between the superficial appearance of things and their true nature, between reality and artificiality. Often using the human body as a vessel for abstraction and projected meaning, she has photographed live models and mannequins, masks and card sharks, dancers and bodybuilders, questioning the construction and fetishization of mainstream beauty ideals and enduring gender constructs. Belin has been recognized for her contributions to the field of photography with numerous awards, including the Paris Photo prize in 1997, the CCF (HSBC) Foundation for Photography Prize in 2000, and the Prix Pictet in 2015. In 2022, she was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and in 2024 the Académie des beaux-arts elected Valérie Belin as chair VI of the photography section.


Holly Roussell is a curator, museologist, and art historian specializing in photography and contemporary art from East Asia. Since 2021, she is a curator at UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing. Roussell publishes regularly and has organized dozens of group and solo exhibitions for festivals, biennale, and museums around the world. In 2022, Roussell was guest curator for the Curiosa section of Paris Photo, as well as research curator in residence at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul. Recent projects include the major group travelling exhibition, “Civilization: The Way We Live Now” co-curated with William A. Ewing (2018-present), “Slide/Show: Light Images in Chinese Contemporary Art (UCCA, 2023)”, and the upcoming solo exhibition coproduced by UCCA and the Rencontres d’Arles, “Mo Yi: Me in My Landscape” (2024).