Inside Landscapes, an intimate portrait of Schaerbeek

Home is a very basic notion but also fundamentally complex, it is instinctive. Home has a spatial connotation since by definition it refers to the permanent use we do of a certain space as dwelling place, where we live. Home has also an emotional connotation that can be attributed to the process of adaptation of this space to the needs of the inhabitants and or so to the time and effort taken in order to make such space look and feel familiar, safe and pleasant; a feeling rooted in our mind and memories. Beyond our house, we also call our context “home”, which implies not only a physical occupation of a territory but also the consolidation of a social fact. To collectively call home a shared territory imply a subconscious construction of common links to that territory, setting the bases in the formation of a collective identity.

With single, static and honest images, the work of Hakan Simsek “Inside Landscapes” explores the multilayered notion of identity by tracing transversal links between the domestic life of members of his community and the territory they inhabit.

“I am an Ixelles-born Belgian-Turkish who grew up in Schaerbeek. Even though I don’t live there anymore, I still refer to Schaerbeek as my real hometown.  I know this “little village” and its diverse community very well, mainly the Turkish Arab one. Nevertheless, I always wanted to know more about them.

Since I became interested in photography I wanted to be able to discover and express through images something about myself and the place where I belong. Feeling part of a community, I felt the need to portray its people, those who shared this space with me, my home. Getting to know more about the place where I grew up, through the people who built that community, was a way to know more about myself and my own identity.

I do believe that the personality of an individual is not static; it is rather made of a complex overlap of places and other people’s personalities, those with whom this individual builds his daily life.  Far beyond capturing the faces of Schaerbeek, I wanted to delve deeper into their world, to catch a glimpse of Schaerbeek’s atmosphere through the contextualized soul of its inhabitants.

“Inside Landscapes” is a photo series taken inside the houses of some of my fellow neighbors, many of whom I didn’t know beforehand. By taking a picture from their most intimate space, I was able to enter into their inner world. A vast collection of gestures and codes was giving me honest details about themselves. The furniture, the color of the walls, the books on the shelfs, the family portraits, how everything is set together, was the perfect inside portrait. Being inside their home was like being inside their soul. Looking outside the windows, I was able to see Schaerbeek, our home, through their own eyes and through my own.”

This article has been prepared by Brussels Newsroom in collaboration with the Brussels Street Photography Festival as part of the first prize for the International Singles Contest.

janvier 9, 2017