Sunday, 19 October 2014

Louis De Belle


How did you come across the ‘Wunderkammer’ in Milan, where your series ‘Failed Dioramas’ was shot?

I had known the owner for some years, but he had always kept his collection a secret. When I started working on a series about the notion of failure, I would chat with him during the working process. It was then that I found out he had collected a vast amount of animal rarities: he owned a proper cabinet of curiosities. All those items, however, represented a problem for him since he didn't know where to put or how to exhibit them. It was a perfect scenario for me. This is also why the series is entitled 'Failed Dioramas': it's a collection of rarities, the display of which, however, has not been prepared yet.

What did you find most inspiring about that location and the objects that you found there?

Well, that place is a mess. There was a lot of dust and I had to move things around to get a good angle for the shooting - which was hard for the huge amount of stuffed animals and cardboard boxes piled up. Still, the absurdity of the items that were totally out-of-context was something that really caught my eye. It also felt weird arriving at the place itself, as it's in the centre of Milan, in an average bourgeois apartment. I liked the fact that nobody would imagine what actually is behind that door.

How does this series fit in with the rest of your work? What is similar or different?

The series doesn't resemble the rest of my work. Or, at least, this was what I thought in the beginning, as I found this topic to be pretty unique. Yet I received interesting feedback for the project: everyone was able to see the straight framing, the frontal view and the clarity that I always strive to achieve in all my photographic work. So in that sense I guess the series could fit within the range of my other works in terms of formal aesthetics.

It’s curious to look at your series ‘Office Hours’ and the offices belonging to persons with different professions. Do you think that the space we occupy says more about ourselves than we actually are aware of in everyday life?

Indeed. I'm pretty much into interior photography; and that word - interior - surely has a double meaning: the representation of the inner part(s) of both space and person. That's why I decided to portray the offices without their owners. The space was speaking clearly enough for itself.

You finished your MA at Bauhaus University in Weimar this year, congrats! When looking back at your studies, what has shaped your ‘development’ as a photographer the most?

Honestly, I'm not quite done yet! I'm currently working on my MA thesis, which deals with the notion of paradox - something I've always been drawn to. But I already can look back at these last two years of my studies: I've been constantly taking photography classes with a teacher I would have never expected at the Bauhaus University. I had been ready to follow an old, strict German photographer (Düsseldorf style), but instead I found a young German lady, Nina Röder (, who is into staged photography and performing art. This contrast made me question my work and the reasons behind it more: I had to defend my photographic work. This in the end turned out to be a great practice.

What are you currently working on or planning to do in the near future?

Currently I'm developing my MA thesis. And I'm pretty interested in artist residencies, as they give you a chance to develop your own projects. For the next months I have a pretty tight schedule with exhibitions of recent works. Meanwhile, I'm also thinking of gathering a few fellow photographers to shape a stronger movement concerning formalism.

How important is it to you to discuss your work or talk about art works as such?

Critique is the most important thing to me. You get to know different points of view and you seriously question what you're doing. This eventually leads to a good level of consciousness. When it comes to the notion of 'art' it's very easy to get lost. Being able to stay focused is hard, yet fundamental.

Is there an art community, a person, book, movie… - you name it - that has shaped your perception of photography in a distinctive way?

The Düsseldorf School of Photography was very inspiring to me. Boring, but inspiring. So was the New Topographic Movement. Further, seeing works from artists such as Ed Ruscha, which aim toward a very graphic aspect of photography, deeply shaped my perception of photography. I'm pretty much into a certain type of 'severity', if you will.

What is the best life advice you have ever been given?

I didn't get one yet. But I'm pretty sure that doing as much as possible and doing it as good as possible is not such a bad habit.

What do you prefer: Novels or short stories?

Short real stories.

The selection of pictures shown here are taken from the three series 'Failed Dioramas', 'Swims' and 'Office Hours'. You can find information about the office holders on series' page.