In the Framed series, a different Brussels-based photographer captures the city in four photographs every month. In black and white or with a theatrical glow, from on top of a tower or with a tripod firmly on the cobblestones, with a melancholy gaze or with their eyes wide open to the city’s surreal nature.
“When I moved to Brussels, a very common reaction from people back home was that it was such a grey city. For this series, I transposed the word ‘grey’ into its figurative meaning: neither black nor white. Being grey or in-between is one of the qualities of Brussels. It is a very eclectic city where there seems to be no order to things: residential and industrial areas, the old and the new, leisure and work...everything mixes, scenes overlap, and cultures merge. I’m fascinated with how we tend to normalize our environment, so I searched for some of these grey areas that are so present in the landscape.”
Thomas Ost (Antwerp, 1989) came to Brussels to study documentary filmmaking, but ended up working as a photographer because he preferred the directness of the medium, the uncommon encounters it provides, and the physical memory that remains in the form of a film strip.
“Brussels. Its people. Its faces. Its objets trouvés. On the street, left behind on the pavement. Readymade sculptures. They wait, they don’t move. A sandwich on a window sill. Lost. And pieces of words. Writings, disturbed or wonderful. Declarations to the world or to a beloved.”
Vincen Beeckman (1973, Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek) is a photographer and has been a football fan since his earliest years. His father played for Anderlecht. Vincen used to write the names of the players on the walls of his school: Scifo, Pfaff... That is where his love of writings in the city developed. He collects them with great care and tenderness. Info: www.vincenbeeckman.be
“Brussels is a city with a screw loose, and with a dirty side. It is a city of extremes: young and old, rich and poor live side by side, and in the midst of all this, you can still find unity. Whether we were born or here or just arrived yesterday, we are Bruxellois. And we Bruxellois, we love old bars and tête-à-têtes. We get fries on the street corner, drink mint tea and beer, sit out on terrasses or park benches at the first sign of the sun, and everyone is always welcome for a chat. We are social and solidary, and preferably over a delicious meal.”
Julie Scheurweghs (Belgium, 1988) explores what is going on in our (visual) culture by using photos from advertising, medical archives, or family photo albums. She tells a story by focusing on the traditions of the photographic image.
“I started this series as an extension of my work Sans issue. It is a vision of Brussels as an apocalyptic building site. It is about looking at the urban from its most inauthentic, morbid side, and not as it really is, the city as the epicentre of life and lives. I blend this with a certain tenderness and irony, adding a layer of poetry, hope, and nature to the chaos. In my view, the city is increasingly becoming an inhospitable force of attraction. This observation is completely aligned with my central concerns: I enjoy looking for things that seem dead within what is full of life, and life within things that seem dead. This miniseries is a kind of dissection of that strange and paradoxical vibration in certain places in Brussels.”
Aurore Dal Mas (Belgium, 1981) takes photos, writes, studies, and manipulates. Her work attests to the compromised beauty of the eternal and questions the masks of temptation; She exhibited at the Museum of Photography in Charleroi and 44 Gallery in Bruges.
“As a photographer, I am sensitive to atmosphere and light. This series was inspired by the lack of sunlight in Brussels. You can think of it as a declaration of love to that grey, raw, but warm city that keeps surprising me and which I keep (re)discovering. I look for distinctive locations that tell a story and let them carry me away while I make portraits of some notable residents."
Geert De Taeye (Belgium, 1980) makes both commercial and personal work. His atmospheric photos are the result of a practice in which he manipulates and reinvents his subjects, and thus immerses the truth in a seductive layer of irony and empathy. Instagram: @geertdetaeye
“I arrived in Belgium with a one-way ticket from Italy back in December 2007. This month I celebrate my tenth year as a Brussels resident, and creating this short series of images felt like the perfect way to wrap up this decade and walk into the next one. A couple of weeks ago I moved into my new photography studio in the neighbourhood of Zavel/Sablon. The series Ommegang is the result of the first explorations around my new ‘home’.”
> Silvano Magnone (Italy, 1981) is an Italian photographer based in Brussels. He spends much of his time in his studio/darkroom, where he conducts investigations into portraiture, and analogue and alternative photography. In his studio he regularly organises workshops and wet plate collodion portrait sessions.
“One day, my dad told me to look up in order to take in the true beauty of architecture. Since then I’ve always been following his advice, up to the point where I decided to change my angle and try to look from above. So for this series, I decided to take a look at Brussels from the rooftops of some of its highest towers. This picture was shot from the UP-site tower by the canal.”
Whilst living in London, Gautier Houba (Belgium, 1988) bought his first DSLR camera and developed a passion for photography. In Brussels, he broadened his portfolio by opening up to different styles, constantly looking for new angles to magnify the city. Over the past few years, he has collaborated with BRUZZ, Lezarts Urbains, the City of Brussels, and Fondation Mons 2015.
“I am from Brussels, but my perspective on the city is more melancholic than nostalgic. I think of Brussels as mysterious and ghostly: the city is emptier than many other capitals. The places I photographed are not always immediately recognisable because they are in a state of transformation, reorganized for temporary events, or marred by changeable weather conditions. My pictures are like photos ‘after the party’, Brussels with its wet cobblestones, just before the sun rises and the fog clears.”
Anne De Gelas lives and works in Brussels. Her work is a combination of text, drawings, and photos. Following the books Carnets (2003) and L'Amoureuse (2013), her latest series Mère et Fils is being published by Editions Loco in December.
“What interests me is exploring the domesticated landscape, trying to ‘grasp’ things. The long walks I take to do so (as well as for health reasons) result in images that I use to create my own universe. Together, they form a kind of imaginary city, landscape, or world. In this series, I focus on Brussels’s summer construction sites, places that produce very surreal situations through the collision of human action and the natural world. Like here, for example, in the east of Brussels, where they are working on tramline 94 on Woluwelaan/avenue de la Woluwe.”
Paul D’Haese (Belgium) was nominated as a finalist for the Magnum Photography Awards in both 2016 and 2017, with his series Belgopolis and Building an Imaginary City. His book dagblind (Yellow Now, 2010) contains a selection of his analogue work.
“I have lived in Brussels all my life, but it keeps surprising me. You belong to the city, in one way or another. You can love it and despise it at the same time, but moving elsewhere is unthinkable. You are inexorably linked together! I just walk around and let my gaze drift down streets and get lost. "
Chrystel Mukeba (Belgium, 1983) studied photography at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, and was assistant to Vincen Beeckman. In 2016 she got selected for the FotoFilmic’16 Summer Shortlist. This year she will have a solo show at 44 Gallery in Bruges.
“There is something very personal about taking photographs at night; it relaxes me somehow. During the night, the theatrical, unreal qualities in photos are highlighted more strongly. This photo was taken at a location very near my home: Thurn/Tour & Taxis, which is currently undergoing a total metamorphosis. The site has a positive influence on the neighbourhood. It stimulates diversity, it is a quiet, green place – an oasis almost – in this parallel world with too many cars and too much pollution and testosterone. It makes the world here bigger.”
Franky Verdickt (Belgium, 1971) won the Lensculture Exposure Award 2014 and was nominated for the Moscow International Foto Awards 2014. His book Nobody Likes to Be Hindered by Wordly Troubles got shortlisted during the Liège Photobook Festival.
“When I arrived in Brussels twenty years ago, the city was one big building site. It seems that those days have returned. You can walk outside and what you expected to see turns out to be gone. In this image, for example, nothing is what it seems. A lot of people think that the construction site on place De Brouckèreplein means that work on the pedestrian zone has started, but it is actually the renovation of the De Brouckère station. The façade of the building under the biggest advertising billboard in the country is also misleading because it has been covered with canvas that has a picture of the building on it.”
In his photographic work, JAN LOCUS focuses on long-term projects. His first, Mongolia (Cypres/FoMu, 2005), won the Plantin-Moretus Prize for best art book. In 2012, he published Devoted with Lannoo. As a filmmaker, Locus has made Garbage City (2013), about the Zabbaleen (“garbage people”) in Cairo, and Confusing Drum (2016), about bonfires as an expression of loyalist culture in Belfast.