I am about to call it a day

By Maria Martens Serrano - Monday, March 2, 2015
I am about to call it a day

"I am about to call it a day" presents images from Bieke Depoorter’s lengthy travels through the United States, which she started in 2010. In much the same vein as her previous project in Russia (Ou Menya), Depoorter travels with no destination in mind, meeting strangers and securing an invitation into their homes. This invitation into the private realm of people’s lives is a feat in itself, which Depoorter takes full advantage of. She gets to the heart of the matter, which is to say, there is a lot of heart in her work – no one could accuse her of being impersonal.

I am about to call it a day

I am about to call it a day presents images from Bieke Depoorter’s lengthy travels through the United States, which she started in 2010. In much the same vein as her previous project in Russia (Ou Menya), Depoorter travels with no destination in mind, meeting strangers and securing an invitation into their homes. This invitation into the private realm of people’s lives is a feat in itself, which Depoorter takes full advantage of. She gets to the heart of the matter, which is to say, there is a lot of heart in her work – no one could accuse her of being impersonal. The Belgian photographer approaches Intimacy with the curiosity of the voyeur, the desire to know more, and a tenderness that deflects any perversity from her intentions. 

© Bieke Depoorter

Her candid portrayals are captivating – inasmuch for their cinematographic quality as for their documentation of intimacy. As the introduction to her new book states, her subjects “seem utterly oblivious…as if the photographer has managed to make herself unseen, leaving only her eye behind.” Indeed, even when looking in her direction, towards the lens, her subject’s gaze seems to look beyond, towards an indeterminate point. Through this ability to “make herself unseen”, Depoorter manages to capture the inward struggles that are reserved for the privacy of the home, the walls within which we allow ourselves to express our frustrations, hopes, the personal idiosyncrasies that too often are kept in check throughout the day.

© Bieke Depoorter

Fearlessly, Depoorter dives into the mundane, the banal, those states-of-being so often derided for their antithetical stance to the exciting and extraordinary experiences we crave.  Yet, it is precisely in these common, every-day moments where most of life takes place. When looking through her photographs, you often feel as though this scene has been played out many times before. That couple’s living-room embrace speaks of comfort, a familiarity like that between the dents in the couch and the body that shaped them.

One image in particular hit me like a punch to the gut. From the reflection of a bathroom mirror you see a woman sitting down on the toilet, not doing her business but in a moment of pause and what can only be contained despair; one hand resting on her knees, her head resting on the other. You can almost feel her sighing.

© Bieke Depoorter

Perhaps her instincts are the only part of herself that Depoorter cannot hide from the viewer. They are presents in every photograph: the instincts to choose these subjects and the instincts to choose these situations. Any orchestration on her part is limited to the manipulation of her tool, the camera, whilst she allows the environment to speak, act out, for itself. The environments she seeks to portray appear worn, torn, captivatingly sordid; beautiful only because they reek of life, and anything that contains traces of living has the power to make us reflect.

The title of her project, I am about to call it a day, captures the essence of those moments that take place in the evening wind-down period; moments locked between today, and the indistinguishable tomorrow. Those moments that so often incite reflection, as you enter the liminal state of leaving one day behind and resigning yourself to the tomorrow that is arriving, as soon as you rise to meet it.

© Bieke Depoorter

Maria Martens Serrano is a Dutch-Salvadoran writer. She studied under a liberal arts program at University College Utrecht, going on to graduate with an MSc in Sociology from the University of Amsterdam. Exploring a broad range of interests, Maria previously worked with a news website and a human rights NGO, before becoming involved with several art fairs in the Netherlands. She now writes on topics of arts and culture. In early 2015 Maria joined the team of Artdependence Magazine as editor and contributor.

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Image of the Day

Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

Museo Jumex (a private art collection based in Mexico City, Mexico) / David Chipperfield. Image © Simon Menges

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