Masterclass Photography in the Brussels periphery

The masterclass "Walks on the Wild Side – Photography in the Periphery" zooms in on the complex border area between the Brussels Capital Region and the Flemish periphery. Photographer Stephanie Kiwitt and photography theorist Steven Humblet guide a small group of fifteen participants on a trip from Destelheide to the suburban neighbourhoods of Drogenbos and Vorst.

As an outsider, we pay a short visit to this chaotic environment in which a river, an industrial estate, a metropolis and a small-town village cross one another. An area with two languages ​​and cultures, but also an area that is intersected by several highways, roads and railways. This stratified environment houses many different thoughts, emotions and desires.

How do you as a temporary resident experience this space?

What does it do to you to walk through an area that is not really equipped for this slowness and how does this way of moving yourself influence your interpretation of this environment?

How can you use photography as a means to convey your own perception of this place?

These are only some of the questions that will be addressed in this master class, which aims to explore the potential perceptions of this urbanised and somewhat chaotic area by way of photography. Guided by Stephanie Kiwitt and Steven Humblet and in a continuous dialogue with your fellow course participants you will be encouraged to explore the boundaries of the medium and your own imagination. Take a walk on the wild side!

Read here our interview with Steven and Stephanie about this unique project.

Register here for this masterclass

Capital Decor, reclamebord, Rathausplatz Pforzheim (D), 2015 (c) Stephanie Kiwitt

Practical

What? Masterclass "Walks on the Wild Side”: photography in the periphery of Brussels

Teachers? Photographer Stephanie Kiwitt and photography theorist Steven Humblet

For whom? Third-year or master students at a college of advanced art education, professional photographers who are interested in the subject and teaching method, international photographers.

Where? Destelheide, Dworp (close to Brussels)

Price? 275 Euro for (-35-year olds) or 325 Euro for (+36-year olds). You will stay in full board, meals and accommodation included.

When? From Friday, 25 March at 10 am to Monday, 28 March at 5.00 pm.  

Course language? English (or Dutch if only Dutch-speaking participants) 

Registration form

Four Oranges, Some Office Buildings, Woman's Legs, kunstenaarsboek, APE#056, Gent (BE), 2015 (c) Stephanie Kiwitt

Bio

Steven Humblet (°1970) studied Philosophy and Social and Cultural Anthropology at the KU Leuven. Since 2003, he is a teacher at the Sint-Lukas College of Advanced Education in Brussels where he is responsible for several theoretical and practical courses on photography. He was for many years involved in the research project Citygraphy, about the representation of landscapes and cities in photography and film. He also writes as a freelance art critic for magazines such as De Witte Raaf, DW B, Ons Erfdeel, Etcetera, Camera Austria, etc. 

Stephanie Kiwitt, born 1972 in Bonn, is a photographer living in Brussels. Serving as point of departure for her artwork is the photographic observation of places that represent a steady commercialisation of public spaces and everyday spheres of life. In the process, she works with series and ensembles of pictures, each assuming a specific form in a book or an exhibition space. In 2009 she was artist-in-residence at Wiels. In 2010-12 she participated in the photographic research project "De fotograaf in de stad" at the School of Arts Gent (KASK). In 2015 her work was shown at Camera Austria Graz, Wiels Brussels, Fotograf Festival Prague and Centre de la Photographie Genève.

Interview

Photographers all over the world, focus your camera for another master class! From 11 to 14 April, Stephanie Kiwitt (photographer) and Steven Humblet (photography theorist) will guide a small group of participants on a photography trip to the Brussels periphery under the motto “Walks on the Wild Side”. We talked to both of them.

Hi Stephanie, what is the basis of your photographic work?

Stephanie Kiwitt: “I like to observe public or semi-public spaces such as shopping centres, gyms... Places that represent the increasing commercialisation of everyday life. But also exactly the opposite, where everything is dirty or in decay and nothing grows, for instance when I photographed a derelict site in Ghent over a longer period of time. I always work with a whole bunch of pictures that I bring together in a context, which can be a book or an exhibition. I continuously look for new ways in which to visualise certain issues.”

In your presentation of the master class, you talk about “photography as medium for experiences”. What do you mean by that?

Steven Humblet: “At the places that Stephanie talked about, experiences are offered and consumed. For example, a shopping centre is not only a place with stores, it also offers 'shopping experiences’. As a photographer, it is very easy to show the spaciousness of the architecture of such a mall, but capturing the actual shopping experience is much more difficult. In her pictures, Stephanie tries to capture these experiences and that is exactly what I find so intriguing about her work. Another example: Brussels’ main shopping street, the Nieuwstraat. Photographers don’t think it’s an interesting environment for taking pictures because they feel they cannot do anything with it, whereas I believe we should above all challenge ourselves to photograph such seemingly banal spots as these."

“In her most recent book, Stephanie focussed on the periphery of Brussels, a public area that cannot exactly be defined as a well-considered construction: several functions are mingled, none of which should ever completely dominate the environment. Think of the airport of Zaventem, which is completely surrounded by residential neighbourhoods. If one would have created a larger periphery around the airport, the problem of night-time noise exposure would never have existed. Over the years, the Brussels periphery has evolved into an accumulation of different spaces with many conflicting experiences. When driving on the road from Vorst to Drogenbos, you will see quite a few bizarre things. Like a crematorium in a semi-industrial complex: what the hell is going on here?”

Stephanie: “You’ll also find the linguistic border here, the transition from city to village, etc. To capture this multifaceted environment, photographers should not only focus on watching, they should use all their senses to really experience these spots in the periphery.”

Steven: “What makes photography so difficult, is the fact that it is a purely visual medium. All other senses are filtered out: when you look at a picture, you do not hear, smell or feel anything. How can you add this physical experience to your photographs? That is, in short, the challenge that we and the participants want to take on during our four-day master class.”

You both have a lot of experience as a teacher. How will you take on the master class?

Steven: “That is something we want to keep secret for another while (smiles). But I think our approach will most definitely be a dynamic one. We also want to use the master class as a kind of experimentation lab for the participants, enabling everyone to follow his or her own trajectory. There are different ways in which we can work: individually, in group, in confrontation with each other, in a dialogue with one another...”

Stephanie: “We will surely promote mutual exchanges between the participants. And it will most definitely be a very intense programme.”

Steven: “As for the form, we will work towards a small publication: a folded booklet on A3 format, twelve pages per couple. Within these limits, participants can do whatever they want and we will certainly encourage them to experiment.”

Finally: what do you hope to achieve among the participants of the master class?

Steven: "I hope we can offer them another perspective on photography. We want to lift participants from their normal behaviour and encourage them to experiment radically with the way in which they approach photography.”

Stephanie: “The locations where we will take pictures may at first sight not appear very attractive and even be a bit boring, but by looking closely and for a long time, participants will learn how to bend them to their will.”

Steven: “One of the most difficult things in photography is making a ‘banal’ photograph. Photography makes the world beautiful, whatever you capture. The neutrality of a banal space, how can you tackle that in photography? How can you capture the interaction of opposite forces in pictures? This really sounds exciting, I would like to join this master class... How much does it cost?” (laughter)

Eline Leonard

Wondelgemse Meersen, kunstenaarsboek, Kodoji Press, Baden (CH), 2012 (c) Stephanie Kiwitt