donderdag 26 januari 2012

Belgium - a country scarred Belgicum Stephan Vanfleteren Photography



The neurotic fuss, rapid progress and drastic changes make me sad ...

From November 24th, 2011, to March 1st, 2012, Hilaneh von Kories Gallery in Hamburg will present a new exhibit titled BELGICUM with images by Belgian photographer Stephan Vanfleteren.

It began twenty years ago and became a one of a kind undertaking, which turned into an unusual hommage to his home country. The Latin title BELGICUM means “Belgian” and is the all-encompassing tag line to what Stephan Vanfleteren discovered during his many travels deep into his home country. Belgium was carved out of the southern provinces of the so-called Low Countries in 1830 in spite of the fact that the area had to merge two different cultural identities. One is french-speaking and Catholic, influenced by the southern neighbor country France. The other one is Flamish-speaking and Protestant adjacent to the Netherlands.

When Vanfleteren started his mission he was looking to discover meaningful moments in the daily lives of people. And so he went to every corner of Belgium, where he captured a multi-faceted and distinctive caleidoscope of portraits and landscapes and telling moments. 40 of these images have been selected for his Hamburg exhibit.

These images are touching, because Vanfleteren always takes his camera very close to the people he photographs, which bring out their character and their faces rather strongly. The results give the impression that Belgium has a huge reservoir of true originals, many of them rough and headstrong types. They look as if they are cut-outs from a time, when time stood still.

Vanfleteren’s exploration produces images that are timeless, melancholic and strangely distant. That is because he does not shoot in the capital city of Brussels but strives for regular folks in the rural parts far away from the paths that tourists travel and with no inkling to be folksy. Still, these images say much more about the country as a whole and the people call themselves Belgians than any tourism brochure.

Vanfleteren began his project when he worked for a newspaper. It became an ongoing “through a scarred country trapped in its perpetual search for a national identity”. His own search is moored in a personal traumatic story from his younger days, when he witnessed how small fishing communities were turned into concrete jungles. “I am saddened by neurotic fuss, hurried progress and drastic changes”, he says. So, with his camera, he slows everything down and brings the unique and whimsical to the fore, knowing full well that eventually it will vanish.

Stephan Vanfleteren was born in 1969 and studied photography at the Sint- Lukas in Brussels. In 1993 he started his career as a free-lance photographer working in a radical black-and-white style, much appreciated by national and international publications such as The New York Times, Le Monde, Paris Match and Die Zeit. His travels brought him to Colombia, the United States, Ethiopia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. He won numerous awards including the World Press Photo award and the Henri Nannen award in 2011. His images have been shown in many exhibits and published in a number of books, besides “BELGICUM”, like “Flandrien”, “Tales of a Globalizing World”, “Portret 1989-2009” and “Elvis&Presley”.

 Brussels, 2004 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Georgette, Brussels, 2004 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Meldert, 2004 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Theofiel hanging staircase, Pajottenland | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Antwerpen, 2002 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Ombardzijde, 1990 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Pontje, Fisherman, Nieuport, 2004 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Theofiel with stick, Pajottenland | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Juanita and Albert, Antwerpen, 2003 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Bob, Antwerpen, 2003 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories

 Edelare, 1994 | © Stephan Vanfleteren/Galerie Hilaneh von Kories


1 opmerking:

Unknown zei

These are some marvellous images! I spend lots of my time in both Germany and belgium as the scenery there is perfect for landscape connuate images! I have spent much time on city breaks in Hamburg lately and I have to say I loved every minute! beautiful photographic location!