Depoorter Bieke: “This is not objective photography, it is a story I tell”

How did You come up with an idea to stay and photograph in other people’s houses?

Bieke Depoorter.©Griet Depoorter

Bieke Depoorter.©Griet Depoorter

It all started with my graduating project ‘Ou Menya’. Before that I was more of a street photographer, but I always felt strange about that, I often had the feeling I stole these pictures from people.
Besides that, I was really into making ‘the perfect picture’. I could wait for a very long time on a sudden spot, for a person to walk by at the place I wanted them to be. People were more as chess pawns. I never felt good after such a photography day. The photographs were okay, but not wonderful, I missed something.
In Russia, I asked one girl in Moscow (almost the only one I met that spoke English during my travels) to write for me a note that I could hand out to people. Initially this was just a thing to help me out, because I had not a lot of money and in the places I would photograph there were probably no hotels, and sleeping in homes was a way to photograph inside.
But soon I realized this was a right way for me to take photographs. I did not had the feeling I stole photographs anymore, because often I had a very good relationship with the people I   stayed with. I was amazed that I could enter in the intimacy of their lives so fast, and I tried to capture this. The people became real people, and it felt right.
Depoorter Bieke - In Between 01
Depoorter Bieke - In Between 02
Actually You use very performative art to reveal what You see in those images. Did You  succeeded in finding main differences/similarities between families, which You photographed?
For me, this is more about the similarities between people, than that I want to focus on the differences. I did this project already in the States, in Egypt and in Russia. Sometimes, for exhibitions, I like to mix the photos, without saying in which place the photographs are taken. And its remarkable that it works really well. Often, it is not important about in which exact place these photographs are taken. I do not want to tell with this work how these people live.
Depoorter Bieke - In Between 03
Depoorter Bieke - In Between 05
Interesting conception and brave expression in Your work is highly visible. Many photographers often seek or desire invisibility. Are you?
I do not think I am totally invisible in my work. It of course depends from photograph to photograph, from project to project. This is not objective photography, it is a story I tell. It is how I look at the people in my photographs, often after a lot of interaction with them.
It is very important for me that I am not only with people as a photographer, being there to take a good photograph. It is important that I am there as a person in the first place. Photography comes together with it.
Depoorter Bieke - In Between 08
You were offered to open an exhibition of Your works in the next edition of the Athens Photo Festival. What’s your next project?
I am currently working on my second book ‘I am about to call it a day’, were I stay in peoples homes in the States. It will probably be published in the summer.
I am still photographing in Egypt for ‘In Between’, a project were I, again, ask people on the street to spend the night in their homes. It is very interesting in these times of revolution and constant rising of mistrust towards foreigners. Also the photographs we see about Egypt are often violent, about Tahrir square, sit-ins, stone throwers… I like to give another side.
Together with Cyprien Clement Delmas, I am working on a documentary movie in Thokoza, a township near Joburg. We are following young dj’s and dancers in their ‘bedroom studios’.
I have just started another new project, but it is to much in his early stage to talk about it already.
Depoorter Bieke - In Between 09
Depoorter Bieke - In Between 11
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Posted in Interviews