Bieke Depoorter received a master’s degree in photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent in 2009. Three years later, at 25 years old, she was made a nominee of the photo cooperative Magnum Photos, where she was named a full member in 2016.
Depoorter has won several awards and honors, including the Magnum Expression Award, The Larry Sultan award and the Prix Levallois. Last year, she got nominated for the Deutsche Börse Foundation Photography Prize with her solo Exhibition 'A Chance Encounter' At C/O Berlin.
She has published five books: A. , Ou Menya, I am About to Call it a Day, As it May Be, and Sète#15. She worked together with Aperture, Editions Xavier Barral, Edition Patrick Frey, Lannoo, Hannibal, and Le bec en l’air to publish these books. In 2020, Depoorter started her own publishing platform ‘Des Palais’, together with Tom Callemin.
The relationships Depoorter establishes with the subjects of her photographs lie at the foundation of her artistic practice. Accidental encounters are the starting point, and how these interactions naturally develop dictates the suite. Several projects have been the result of Depoorter always questioning the medium itself.
In As it may be, Depoorter gradually became more aware of her status as an outsider, both culturally and as a photographer. So, in 2017, she revisited Egypt with the first draft of the book, inviting people to write comments directly onto the photographs.
In Sète#15, and also Dvalemodus, a short film she co-directed, she began to see her subjects as actors. Although she portrayed them in their true environments, she tried to project her own story onto the scenes, fictionalizing the realities of her subjects in a way that blurred the lines between their world and hers.
In the self-published book A., Bieke Depoorter explores the complexities of the photographic enterprise, grappling with the relationship between photographer and subject. By diving deep into a collaborative working dynamic with a Polish woman that she met in a club in Paris, she creates a small alternate universe that served as a container for them to explore questions they each had regarding identity, performance and representation.
A. is a project that asks more questions than it offers answers, first recognizing the well-worn idea of photographer-as-witness as a relative impossibility, then throwing all players involved under the microscope: photographer, subject, audience, and, of course, the medium itself.
In her ongoing project Michael, she investigates the disappearance and life of a man she met on the streets of Portland in 2015. After giving her three suitcases full of scrapbooks, notes and books, everyone lost sight of him.