by Dieter Debruyne

Tell us about your approach to photography. How it all started? What are your memories of your first shots?

Karin Borghouts (KB): I started photographing in 1999 and I made my first interesting picture in the zoo. This was in 2001 and I returned in 2002 to rephotograph it with a large format camera. What you see is an artificial rock and a staircase. I wanted to make pictures that I had not seen before. I saw the picture as a construction of reality and therefore I photographed artificially nature. The photograph is something in between fiction and reality. I was not interested in the pure documentary style but I used this to create another reality.

How did your research evolve with respect to those early days?

KB: I have been photographing for several years in zoos and amusement parks, producing a first book and exhibition “Through the Looking Glass”. I still follow the same fascination for the transformation a picture can undergo compared to reality. I see my subjects as a quiet scene, a still life or a diorama. There is always a kind of absence in it. The pictures have become more complex and the technique has meanwhile evolved.

© Karin Borghouts, series ‘Through the Looking Glass’, 2002

Tell us about your educational path. What are your best memories of your studies? What was your relationship with photography at that time?

KB: I studied painting in Antwerp at the now so-called Karel de Grote Hogeschool. This is more than 30 years ago but I still feel the influence in my photographs. Already at that time I wrote a paper “Photography and painting in interaction” where I discussed various artists who used photography to create their work, such as Degas, Breitner, Khnopff and other artists. I also spent my young years in part-time artschools making paintings and sculptures. I worked for a long time as a graphical designer which was a good way to think about visual communication and to learn to frame things.

© Karin Borghouts, series 'Rooilijn’, 2003

What were the courses that you were passionate about and which have remained meaningful for you?

KB: Art Philosophy. I still love the philosophical approach of images. I am not a storyteller but I like to discover meaningfull layers in photographs telling us something about life and human existence.

Any professor or teacher that has allowed you to better understand your work?

KB: I am happy to have had many good visual artists as teacher and mentor. They all were important in a certain period of my life and influenced my way of thinking and working.

© Karin Borghouts, series 'The Show’, 2005

© Karin Borghouts, series 'The Show’, 2008

What do you think about photography in the era of digital and social networking?

KB: In looking at pictures on the internet you can get a good first impression of the work. But on the internet everything seems to be only information or entertainment. I often feel overwhelmed by too much information. I love to show my photographs in an exhibition or in a book. Scale and quality of the prints are important and I like to see them in a relationship to the space and to other works. The production of photobooks has been never so big now in this era of the internet. I use e-newsletters and my website to inform people about my activities. It is a cheap and efficient way to do so. I stopped facebook, because it is too time-consuming but it can be important to use it when you are starting as an artist.

© Karin Borghouts, series 'L'esprit de l'espace’, 2011

About your work now. How would you describe your personal research in general?

KB: My work is an investigation into the relationship between photography and reality and the other visual arts. An investigation into what representation may imply. I like to draw things in doubt.

Do you have any preferences in terms of cameras and format?

KB: I have been working for several years with a large format analogue camera, a Linhof fieldcamera 4 x 5 inch. Now I am photographing digital. I currently have a Canon 5D mark II. I use fixed lenses 35 mm, 50 mm and a wide angle tilt- and shiftlens. I hope I can upgrade my camera next year.

© Karin Borghouts, series 'Interludium’, 2012

Tell us about your latest project 'The House’

KB: The house of my childhood burned down and I went in to take pictures. I made an exhibition and a publication “The house”. I photographed my parents’ home which was burned down. The work evokes conflicting feelings, which I experienced after the fire. The interiors looked horrible and yet were so fascinating and beautiful. The prints of burnt interiors and objects –perceived as still lifes – are mat prints on Photo Rag paper. I also made an artist photobook along with designer Rob van Hoesel.

© Karin Borghouts, artist publication “The house”, 2014

Is there any contemporary artist or photographer, even if young and emerging, that influenced you in some way?

KB: I like a lot visual artists such as Thomas Demand, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Thomas Struth and Lynne Cohen. Also our Belgian artists Dirk Braeckman and Carl De Keyzer.

Three books of photography that you recommend?

KB: 'Strassen’ of Thomas Struth, one of my first photobooks. 'Our true intent is all for your delight’ The John Hinde Butlin’s Photographs, originally postcards from the sixties for one of the first amusementparks in Great Britain (introduction by Martin Parr). And of course not to forget, my own new publication 'The house’!

© Karin Borghouts, artist publication “The house”, 2014

Is there any show you’ve seen recently that you find inspiring?

KB: I recently visited the impressive solo exhibition of Dirk Braeckman at Le Bal in Paris. INSIDE in Palais de Tokyo in Paris, contemporary art exhibition with many very good videos and art installations.

© Karin Borghouts installation view 'The house’, Breda (NL), 2014

Projects that you are working on now and plans for the future?

KB: I hope to publish a book with my work from 2003 until 2013 and I want to make an exhibition with my museumseries 'Interludium’. I hope I can show the exhibition 'The house’ again and I am also working on a new series of special interiors which will be on view next year. 
The artist publication 'The house' is available at The Eriskay Connection.


KArin Borghouts