Q&A: Sybren Vanoverberghe — Conference of The Birds


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Trying to spend more time in solitude. What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Us being aware we’re in a constant denial of the current state of this planet and almost not taking any steps to do something about it. Our lack of solidarity. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Yes, social media in combination with politics seems to be one of the biggest. What is it that interests you about photography? It doesn’t tell you the truth, it just looks like it does. What is the worst thing about city life? The lack of nature and space. What part of the planet would you like to explore? Kazakhstan, Egypt, Mexico. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Pyramids. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Not a leader. Pick a field of science to be an expert within. I’d love to be an archaeologist. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? I like to work in periods where I photograph and other periods where I don’t. It’s ok to miss an image, as long as you keep it in your mind so your fantasy can be triggered, up until the moment you see a similar scenery or experience a similar moment, images have to grow and evolve sometimes. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. I like to keep my focus on my work, part-time framing would be fun. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. There are too many important photos, important today can be unimportant tomorrow, paintings can stay longer in my mind than photographs.

How often do you take other people’s advice? All the time, talking about work is very important. Describe a personal hell. No more challenges, no more fun, I like stability though. Which living person do you most admire? My grandfather. On what occasion do you lie? Only when necessary. What was the last crime you witnessed? A group of bouncers smashing a dude way too hard. What is the best way to educate yourself? Education starts with experience and listening to other people. Looking at other people’s work is what helped to educate me. What is the next book you want to read? Dante’s Personal Hell. Ultimate camera? Mamiya 7. Most used camera? Mamiya 7. What object do you want? The new homeware set of Ann Demeulemeester looks really nice. What object do you need? A spare Mamiya 7. How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? The danger of the future. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? No, I want to swim more. Describe a cheap thrill. I lost my cellphone on a rollercoaster while being drunk a while ago, started out as a cheap thrill, got expensive in the end. Pick a historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. 9 November 1989 Berlin. Are impulses more important than consequences? Equal. Which talent would you most like to have? I want to start making sculptures. What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Working, walking, snorkeling and working. I’m in Portugal for the holidays. ”

‘Conference of the Birds’ shows an outtake from an analysis of the correlation between time and place and of the historical Iranian landscape. How do places appear and disappear? How do we attach meaning to a certain site and in what way photography can deal with deconstructed icons in comparison to the (a-)historical palm tree sticking out its tongue? A small desert village has been photographed obsessively and captured from every angle possible. Elements are positioned in the frame so that they are repeated in the next. The photographs move in closely to the landscape of a palm tree village. The village is small and serene. Palm trees appear all over the place, they are burned, bend, dry and dead. They resemble pillars and artifacts that are left behind on various historical sites and they can be associated with land art installations.

Sybren Vanoverberghe (°1996, Kortrijk) is an artist based in Ghent, Belgium. His work functions as an analysis of the correlation between place and time and the ever-recurring cycle of history. He searches for elements of myths, nature, and heritage both within ordinary sites as in places of historical importance. By what process do we attach meaning to these locations? His practice deconstructs sites and brings together icons to form a new unity of the present. Vanoverberghe his work has been published in books such as 2099 (2018) and Conference Of The Birds (2019) by APE.

His work has been shortlisted for the PHMuseum Grant and he received the Prix Horlait Dapsens. He has exhibited solo at RIOT, Stieglitz19, and BredaPhoto.
Vanoverberghe has collaborated with fashion brand Ann Demeulemeester and his work has been published on American Suburb X, Paper Journal, and GUP Magazine.

He co-founded artist run-spaces Pinguin in Brussels and NO/Gallery in Ghent. In 2019 his work will be shown at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam.

To see more of Sybren Vanoverberghe’s work visit — Website / Instagram.

To buy Sybren Vanoverberghe’s Conference of the Birds head to artpapereditions.org

The work will be on show next week at UNSEEN at the STIEGLITZ19 Booth (20-22nd Sept).