DBPFP 2023 : Bieke Depoorter

Image of an elderly man in his living room reaching up to the ceiling lamp as his walls are covered in magazine cutouts by bieke depoorter at the photographers gallery.

DBPFP 2023 : Bieke Depoorter

Image of Michael walking in front of US houses on a sidewalk, on a sunny day.

Nominated for her exhibition A Chance Encounter at C/O Berlin (30 April – 7 September 2022).

Bieke Depoorter (b. 1986, Kortrijk, Belgium) blurs the traditional relationship between photographer and subject. She questions the role and responsibilities of the photographer, the possibility or impossibility of truth in representation and grapples with personal and professional boundaries. Her nominated project presents two unfolding, ongoing, bodies of work, Michael and Agata. In both, a chance encounter develops into an enduring personal relationship and, thereafter, into an interrogation of the medium. A selection of work from the Michael project will be on display at The Photographers’ Gallery.

In Michael, Depoorter examines the life and the disappearance of a man she met on the streets of Portland, Oregon in 2015. Gifted three suitcases of Michael’s personal items, sketchbooks and essays, his subsequent disappearance turns Depoorter detective. Depoorter’s work documents her immersive, perhaps obsessive, quest to find Michael and to understand his life. In Agata, a first meeting in a Parisian strip-club in 2017 evolves with complex tension into an intricate, changing narrative. The project explores questions of collaboration, the limits of a creative friendship, performance, boundaries and authorship.

I see exhibiting and books as part of the work. Therefore I have shown this ongoing work in different forms already, as each time it’s been shared, it changes again. I see it as an ongoing conversation, between photograph, subject and viewer.

- Bieke Depoorter

Bieke Depoorter talks in more detail about her work and A Chance Encounter

About Bieke

Bieke Depoorter received a master’s degree in photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent in 2009.

Three years later, at 25 years old, she was made a nominee of the photo cooperative Magnum Photos, where she was named a full member in 2016. Depoorter has won several awards and honours, including the Magnum Expression Award, The Larry Sultan award and the Prix Levallois. She has published five books: Agata, Ou Menya, I am About to Call it a Day, As it May Be, and Sète#15.

She has worked with Aperture, Editions Xavier Barral, Edition Patrick Frey, Lannoo, Hannibal, and Le Bec en l’Air to publish these books. In 2020, Depoorter started her own publishing platform ‘Des Palais’ with Tom Callemin.