Oct 06, 2016
Youqine is a young Belgian photographer currently based in Vevey, Switzerland who was recently selected for this series as a finalist of the 20. vfg Nachwuchsförderpreis (young talents prize) here in Switzerland.
Her work is greatly inspired by her own personal story and deals with topics such as family, memory, intimacy and childhood amongst others. Approaching her subjects with patience and care, Youqine establishes the perfect connection to create these fabulous and moving images that are strong, tender and beautiful at the same time.
Following we want to present an interview that we had with Youqine:
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
YL - Hi, my name is Youqine Lefèvre. I am a 22 years old Belgian photographer currently living in Switzerland. After completing a Bachelors in Fine Arts at the Graphic Research School of Brussels (Belgium) in 2014, I continued studying photography at the School of Applied Arts in Vevey (Switzerland). I just finished my studies in July. Now, I continue my project « Far from home ».
am - What inspires your work?
YL - A lot of things inspire my work; first, my personal story, I mean by that my adoption. Intimacy, childhood, memory, family and its weaknesses are recurring topics in my artistic endeavor. The challenge of my project « Far from home » is to be able to move beyond my own family and intimate problems towards something broad and open. I feel some empathy for these children. In a way, their story is close to mine. Concerning the works of other photographers, I think I’m influenced by the portraits of Bryan Schutmaat, Sally Mann, Sarah Mei Herman, Cynthia Henebry, Andrea Modica, Laura Henno. Generally I am quite touched by pictures of photographers who work with children or teenagers and works that concerns the theme of the family. And I think that I am quite influenced too by films such as « Mud » by Jeff Nichols, « Joe » by David Gordon Green or « Beasts of the Southern Wild » by Benh Zeitlin, films that are about childhood and at the same time where nature is very important, like in my series. I also love the work of Terrence Malick.
am - What is “far from home” about?
YL - This project is about children living in an isolated foster home in the mountains, and whose parents are temporarily unable to look after them. Children, who have been deprived of what would have been an ordinary life path. They have been transformed by past trauma and find themselves in a transition phase, caught between a world of innocence and of experience, stuck in an in-between, where the world of childhood persists somewhat nonetheless.
From the very beginning of this project I became aware of the fact that only the children in the foster home were the target of my camera, not the educators nor the parents. Their story is close to mine. In my portraits, I try to capture moments when they let go of their guards, forget about the physical existence of the camera and the photographer to be their real selves. Getting over self-representation, the role that we think we have to play facing the camera, in order to achieve the beauty of “being”. I’m looking for weaknesses, perceptible hesitations; some sort of uncertainty and fragility echoed in the environment and not unrelated to the situation they are in. Nature and landscape, both of which are highly present, are key elements in the series. They are the result, among others, of many wanderings and states of mind experienced when I found myself there.
Far from home is a long-term process, requiring patience. In which I set in certain “slowness”, the vector of proximity with the people and places photographed. I need to immerse myself in the environment, to create connections with the models, to somehow be part of the community as I move closer to children, both personally and formally. After all, this is a quest for intimacy. As the project progresses, it tends to swing increasingly towards the intimate.
Stone images are recurrent in the series; they are of particular interest and value for two of the boys in the foster home. Having no knowledge what so ever about lithotherapy, they invested the stones with a power that enables them to comfort or soothe their anger for instance. And when a child leaves the foster home forever, a stone is always offered to him by an educator, supposed to represent his personality. Dealing with these stones is a relevant way in my view to further this quest for intimacy.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
YL - Bryan Schutmaat, Alec Soth (especially for his project « Broken Manual »), Sarah Mei Herman, Carly Steinbrunn, Tom Callemin, Cynthia Henebry, Alexandra Catiere, Stine Sampers, Anne de Gelas, Andrea Modica.
am - How would you describe your photographs in 3 words?
YL - Softness, interiority and relation.
am - When you are not taking pictures, what do you do?
YL - I read books, watch movies and TV series, seek photographers’ work on the internet, listen to music, stroll, etc.
am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?
YL - I think I would choose the United States, especially for its wilderness. I am fascinated by works such as « Grays the Moutain Sends » by Bryan Schutmaat or « Broken Manual » by Alec Soth that are about marginalized lifestyles, where nature is omnipresent. Life on the margins of society is a subject that fascinates me. And of course I love the American landscapes and this particular light. But now that I think, it could be Iceland too…
am - Favourite songs / bands at the moment?
YL - The soundtrack of the film « Lost in Translation » by Sofia Coppola, because I’ve seen it recently and I enjoyed it very much.
am - What’s your favourite movie?
YL - Hard to say… The film that shook me the most lately is « Mustang » by Deniz Gamze Ergüven.
am - What are you reading at the moment?
YL - « Continuer » written by Laurent Mauvignier.
am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?
YL - Yes, I try to gain more visibility for my work and to be selected in contests, etc. And above all, I would love if in one or two years this project (which also exists in book) is published by a publishing house.
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
YL - Thank you for giving me this opportunity!