KT: How did you get into photography?
UB: To quote a very famous poet: ‘Oh, there ain’t no other way. Baby, I was born this way.’
KT: Your work is raw, in-your-face and more like self-exploration of your 80’s personality which revolves around the idea of anonymity. What appeals you to do the kind of work you do?
UB: The era and part of the world where you grow up has – of course – a substantial influence on your personality and thus on the work you do. I was born in the 80s in Belgium on the tones of new beat music. It was the time of the “zero believers.” The great ideas and big dreams of the 60s and 70s – community and unity – had to make a place for the ism’s of the 80s; individualism, postmodernism, capitalism, eclecticism, metropolis, … Out of the ashes of the hippie, the einzelgänger raised. People started to feel less connected and more anonymous.This concept of anonymity is something that comes back in my work very often in the sense that I conceal more than I reveal in my photos. The rawness, the feeling of alienation, the uncanny and the non-spectacular in my work can be understood in the perspective of my spatial-temporal background.
KT: You have published and self-published many zines including ‘125’, ‘Casting,’ ‘Ulrike Biets’ and ‘Poudude.’ What is your fascination with making zines? Why do you prefer zines over photobooks?
UB:I don’t prefer one over the other. I did several zines in the past, and now I started to work on a first artist book. Both have their syntax and dynamics, and in that perspective, they can be seen as a different medium in the making; as in the final result. In a way, a zine gives you more freedom to experiment because it relates much more to the DIY culture than a book. But what they share is the tactility of print, of an (art) object. With artist books, and maybe even more with zines, the publication is not a mere showcase of the artist’s work, but a work of art; ‘a sich
On another note, I do without a doubt prefer print over the screen. I almost exclusively shoot on film, which makes my work very tactile and touchable at the base. Making zines and books for me is a logical continuation and expansion of the way I (show my) work.
KT: In one of your handmade zines ‘Poudude‘, you fetishizedmale nudity. What do you find so alluring about male nudity? What got you started?
UB: The idea of ‘Poudude’ was born out of a general conclusion (readers’ complaint) of female friends that there was a lack of male nudity in art and photography. The only artistic publications that showed nude men were outspoken queer. So we decided we had to bring some change to that, and I dedicated a year for shooting dicks and butts in all sizes and shapes. In the end, it turned out that women don’t enjoy looking at naked men at all. But men do, and ‘Poudude’ went on to get a life of its own, evolving into a cult zine in the (guess where?) gay community. Me being a friend, fan, and supporter of that community, I wasn’t actually surprised or unhappy with that outcome.
KT: You are known for your ability in documenting people doing all sorts of crazy/bizarre things backstage/after parties of shows/on streets and your special fetish for animal photos. What is your photographic fantasy?
UB: My photographic fantasy is to cross my borders – cast off all (conscious or not) self-censorship and meet my limits and extremities. But the ultimate fantasy is to cross the borders of the medium itself; to go beyond the medium. It’s something you can play with, in your work, but it stays a utopia (at least for now) because you are bound to each other.