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While studying a Master’s degree in Photography at KASK Ghent, Sybren Vanoverberghe spends a portion of his bottomless energy on other interesting projects. We caught him while interning at Akina Books – an independent publishing house of challenging photo books, currently based in Istanbul – during a (not so blind) date with Eva. Vanoverberghe is exploring new paths and sees an exciting future ahead.
Photos by Eva Teetaert, shot in Istanbul, Turkey
Interview by Herlinde Raeman
How come you ended up in Istanbul?
Last July I met Valentina Abenavoli and Alex Bocchetto, the two lovely Italians behind Akina, at the Arles Photo Festival. At that time, I was looking for a place to do my internship. Akina is currently based in Istanbul because they print their books at MAS MAT, so we decided to do the biggest part of the internship here. I’m learning a lot about editing and producing art books. Next to that, Istanbul is a very inspiring place for me to photograph and get ideas for future projects.
What’s next when you’re back in Belgium?
Shortly after my return, my publisher – Art Paper Editions – and I are going to print my second book in Hamburg. Everything should be finished before the launch and opening of my exhibition on 22 March in RIOT, Ghent. We’re also planning a book launch at Le Bal in Paris. So back in Belgium I’m gonna be mostly busy spreading the book as much as possible. But I’m also looking forward to spending some time in my atelier to work on new stuff. Oh, and at the end of March I’ll go to Berlin with my girlfriend to see a Motorama concert.
It is important for me that every image can stand on its own and includes an underlying lyricism
What’s the subject of your upcoming book and expo?
The title of the exhibition and the book is 2099. The project talks about my perception of place, time, history and its repetitive character. I deconstructed different historical places by photographing them, as well as places close to home, manipulated icons and put everything together in one project to create a kind of prophecy or new overview of the present. It is important for me that every image can stand on its own and includes an underlying lyricism. I like the fact that the book launch is accompanied by the exhibition so I can have two different ways of telling the story. The exhibition will also include a selection of new works that I’m currently working on.
You also showcase work of others in a space called Pinguin. What’s the main focus in selecting people there?
Ilan Weiss and I have run Pinguin, an open project space, in Brussels since late 2017. Our main focus is showing in between works that didn’t reach the final state or didn’t reach the bigger public yet. During the opening exhibition we organised a duo show with Ilan’s works and mine. After that, we had the book launch of Marie Dhaese and towards the end of March we’re inviting Thomas Vandenberghe and Tine Guns. They will show mostly new works for the first time, so we’re very excited about this! It’s also the first exhibition in which this in between/experimental state of the works is so present. The nice part is that we do not function as a gallery so the artists are free to do whatever they want. In the future we want to work with artists that don’t necessarily use photography; however, they should have a relevance to the medium.
Most of what I produce is not even an artwork, but more the trial and error to practice other forms
Where or how do you (secretly) get inspiration?
Before I used to get a lot of inspiration from other photographers’ work but lately this has changed more towards other art forms in which different mediums are used together. Most of what I produce is not even an artwork, but more the trial and error to practice other forms. After March I’m trying to learn a bit how to cut marble, I’m experimenting with drawings, etc. I don’t see these things as final works but I do realise it gives me inspiration for my own practices as a photographer because it lets me think further about my own medium. For example, How can I interfere more as a photographer in the landscape? Or how can I make more interesting exhibitions by adding stuff besides photography? Furthermore, I’ve always been inspired by going to archaeological museums in places like Athens and also here, in Istanbul.