Q&A: Isabelle Pateer



What part of the planet would you like to explore? I like to drive, to cycle and to walk.. Seeing things passing by and having the freedom and control to stop wherever you like to stay and wonder.. It’s often the way I work as a photographer as well. Drive or walk around and look and investigate. A part of the planet I especially still would like to explore would be a legendary road trip through the US to name one. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Difficult to give one name, but I would like to answer with a quote about leadership itself, which concerns all leaders: ‘those who follow will never lead’. A quote I find quite important to confront yourself with so now and then to keep yourself awake. 
Who would you never work for, no matter how much they offered to pay?
 I would for example never do a commercial photo-shoot for a meat factory. Fortunately I never had to do something like that so far. As a vegetarian I have serious problems with the meat industry. Describe a cheap thrill. Having a picnic at a highway rest place, sitting in the opened door of your car sharing cookies with truck drivers. Ultimate camera? Large format camera. The  more we get surrounded by images the more I feel attracted to the slow process of large format photography. Most used camera?
 Mamiya7. Which living person do you most admire?
My family, for their never ending support. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Calimero. Small but brave. I feel related to that.. Pick a historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. The introduction of the television in households.

The magic of the box that overloaded people with images and stories, and changed our vision on the world so drastically, a mass medium that can be seen as the forefather of the tablet computer. I would love to make an image of the historic moment of people in the ‘50s having their first television. Maybe this seems to be such a special moment because of stories I have heard of it from my parents. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? Depending on who I compare myself with sometimes yes, sometimes no. 
Is there something wrong with kids today, and if so, what? 
I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids, but I think parents nowadays have too little time to spend with them and try to keep them calm with things that have the reversed effect. So maybe it’s more that there is something wrong with our society, instead of with kids. Which religion seems most tempting? 
Buddhism. What is the most un-eatable food?
I really don’t understand why still so many people eat meat.. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t?
I am not that much into snapshots, actually. Often taking images is a quite prepared practice in my case. But even then, I find it sometimes really hard to catch my camera to preserve something I see and experience, especially when it is something personally, or emotionally. Then in a way you have to choose between the experience or the registration. What will replace humans?
Nature. We underestimate the strength of nature. Your favorite painter? Some of my favorites are Paul Cézanne or the Belgian painter Rik Wouters. Especially their technique of painting fascinates me. You have the image, but beside you almost feel the paint, the traces of the brush they have been working with, you feel the cloth. I like the extra dimension and style of materiality they are generating through their work.

You have the superpower to control a single emotion in all people. Which emotion. To share motivation. 
Who would you most like to see embarrass themselves?  Arrogant people. 
Make a prediction for the future. Everything will change. What is the next book you want to read? Just bought the book ‘Collect contemporary photography’ published by Thames and Hudson in the really great bookshop of La Centre Pompidou in Paris. I guess that will be the next book I will be reading. Create the name for a virus that will decimate the population. Wonder whether this human definition will still be useful then? Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Work hard, play hard. Life is short, (try to) enjoy. A museum of natural history and a museum of contemporary art are on fire. Who gets the water? Let’s share the basket. Name one smell that triggers an abstract memory.
 The smell of your knee, when you have been walking, working or playing outside on a summer day.. What was the last crime you witnessed? 
Rules are good, but I also like to challenge the border of some rules sometimes . But we should always try to keep respect I think. For example being driven away from the footpath on which you walk by a (motor)cyclist doesn’t sound like a real crime, but can feel quite so because it lacks respect.. Although we live in a hard world people will always stay sensitive deep within I think. How would you survive in prison? On water and bread. On a scale of one to ten, how much do you trust your closest friends? Will my answer tell more about my friends or myself? Last words before death? My ideal way of dying is actually not realizing I am going to die, so very sudden, without having to suffer. In that case I won’t have the possibility to thank everyone who made my life worthy in one way or another.

Isabelle Pateer – From the series “Unsettled”.