I wanted to challenge myself. Shooting with film is relatively new for me. The idea of working with expired film and the unpredictability that it brings, is something I wanted to embrace and experience. Another challenge for me was the making of portraits, something out of my comfort zone. I usually take photographs of my close surroundings or my ‘umwelten’, as I’d like to call it, which are mostly architectural elements or objects in their own environment. This was a good opportunity to prove myself in a new area and develop myself furthermore on the field of photography.
The most challenging part for me was the search for a setting or sentiment that could represent my neighborhood. Most of the film was shot in the old family house located in Izegem. Here my mother, my grandmother and my great grandmother built up their lives and family. After moving around several times I somehow ended up living here as well, as a part of the fourth generation. This is the second year here for me so this neighborhood still feels rather new. I remember the house in a nostalgic way since I used to come here quite often as a child. I’ve recently become very fond of this place and it’s rich beauty in both historical tactility and emotional value. I took ‘looking at my past’ as a starting point in the search for my own neighborhood or what that could mean to me.
The best part was the I was able to explore this relatively new area in a different way and try to make it my own through the camera lens. I recently did some digging in the family archive and found a collection of old photos which gave me a better understanding about what this place used to be and what it meant to my family. It gave me a better perspective about what has changed and what has been left untouched. This was a nice thought to work with while shooting the film. I was trying to capture the old sentiment of the house by focusing on the materiality and patterns which were very defining for its style and period. The effect of the expired film added a new dimension to the pictures. The extra faded layer played into and strengthened the nostalgic feeling that I wanted to grasp by taking these pictures. I would see this roll as an ode to the past and to celebrate what’s coming.
Most of my photos are from my best friend Margot, whom is very close to me. We have known each other since high school and we’ve been following each other’s lives ever since. In a way she will always be a part of my neighborhood no matter where I go. Together we explored the town and house of my family, which felt like a journey through memory lane. A new experience for both me and her. In the photos she felt like a new character in this old nostalgic scenery. A perfect merge of two worlds, my past and my present. This collision of two timelines somehow created a new personal neighborhood, one where new memories can be made.
I wanted to learn more about where my neighborhood was and what that means to me. What defines my neighborhood? Is it the place where I was born, the town that I live in now or is it where my close friends and family are? These are questions I often ask myself since I’m used to moving around. I sometimes wonder, where is home for me? This project taught me that home doesn’t necessarily have to be one specific place or town. It could be a feeling or an emotion. It could be anywhere and anytime, if you have the right people around you.