Stephanie Van De Velde‘s photographs from ‘Away From The Individuals’ seek to strip away the social aspect of the individual and leave them bare in the face of natural forces, as statues, still, of themselves, to be seen without rancour. The changing perspectives of her pictures giving more or less aspect to her subjects as they play on a Belgian beach.
It’s an interesting exercise. They are of people yet not. The lens focusses in on individuals and groups, watches carefully yet captures them in a state of stillness as if wanting to preserve a sense of anthropological curiosity; how people connect, react, behave. How we see determines how we react. And it’s this essential human dynamic that Van De Velde explores with her camera. Her beautiful composition are both close ups and birds eye views of the same place, the same people, yet each photograph creates a different dynamic and sensibility. Our connection to her subjects moveable, from emotional to intellectual, depending on where we see them from. Dieter Dewilde has this to say about the work:
People that have shed their clothes and attempted to discard their social traits as well, walk towards the sea bearing their skin that is bulging with a carefully accumulated identity. By taking more distance, It changes how one perceives these self-aware individuals. Not only do the people shrink to the size of pawns, they also become embedded in an orchestrated game in which they are put by no one in particular. The journey seems to end with figures that are solidified into statues – A completion of dis-individualisation. They are imperturbable, unshakable figures that found their predestination in a perennial moment.
So it ends with universal stories – populated with everyman-characters- in which the players are connected through the unknown and peer at the horizon only to earn that everything has an end.
This questioning of our relationship to the environment and the people that inhabit it is given voice in these beautiful black and white pictures, her photographs of a fun afternoon on a Belgian beach giving us an impetus to re-examine our own perception of the world around us. Here’s what Van De Velde has to say about her art:
For me photography is a way of saying things that I’m not able to say.