Pushing Belgian Photography Forward: Interview with BSPF 2016 Head, Daniel Oshi (and BSPF contest reminders)

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Editor’s Note: Today we have Daniel Oshi of The Brussels Street Photography Festival. It promises to be a great Photography event highlighting the beautiful city of Brussels and a special insight to Belgian Photography.

I talk shop with Daniel and he invites us to join in their contest (more info at the bottom of the post) and festivities starting on October 28, 2016! All photos used with permission from BSPF. Interview by A.g. De Mesa

A.g.: Hi Daniel, thanks for taking the time! What makes Brussels a unique place to shoot photography compared to other cities in Europe?

Brussels is a unique place in many ways. A city that is constantly looking for an identity and that does not have a recognizable image, which makes it an interesting challenge for the city itself. A rather international city that hosts many nationalities from all over the world, the richness of its culture can be seen in its streets every day. One neighborhood is more institutional where you see many people in suits (European area) while the one right next to it is the most diverse in culture and dense in the whole country (Saint­Josse­ten­Noode) and the other one makes you travel to an African street in the middle of Europe (Matonge, Ixelles).

You can venture in different neighborhoods and it seems you’re traveling to different regions around the world, such as Africa, the Middle East or North America. This makes Brussels a quite interesting place for photography and definitely a must ­visit in Europe.

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© Kristof Vande Velde

Can you tell us about Belgian Street Photographers?
It goes without saying that Magnum photographer Harry Gruyaert has had a big influence in photography in general, not just street photography. His work in color is just astonishing and of a great inspiration for many photographers.
There are currently 4 active full member Magnum photographers who are Belgian: Harry Gruyaert, Carl De Keyzer, John Vink and Bieke Depoorter and we are extremely happy and honoured to have for this edition of the Brussels Street Photography Festival (BSPF) the presence of Harry and Bieke, who are having both a 5­ day Magnum workshop in the occasion of the festival.

Agence Vu Belgian photographers Michel Vanden Eeckhoudt, Gaël Turine and Cedric Gerbehaye have certainly shaped contemporary photography in Belgium and the world. They are more known for their incredible reportage and documentary photography, but we all know there’s a thin line between these styles of photography and street photography. Gaël and Cedric are in the judging panel of the BSPF this year.

Another photographer worth mentioning is Peter Kool, a very well known Belgian street photographer that shows us a surreal and funny side of life. His photos are playful and never dull, you can always appreciate his sense of humor out of the real ordinary daily life.

Can you tell us how the idea behind the festival started?

I’ve been doing street photography myself for about 3 years now. When I realized what it was and that there were others doing it, I wanted to connect with all these photographers, so I started getting in touch with more and more photographers and I always wanted to learn more about the genre, since it was a love at first sight, and still is. Regardless of all the online groups, collectives, websites, blogs, books, communities, etc. I was lacking the human to human interaction and exchange, and wanted something bigger than just another online community.

Around that period, I was collaborating with a public space participatory project carried out by a couple of friends of mine, both architects, urbanists and editors of the Brussels Newsroom. During the process we realized how deeply committed is street photography with the big urban questions and its potential to be a powerful tool to engage citizens with the places they live in and to reinforce the identity of a place. In other words, we found complementarity among each other interests, so we decided to join the efforts from both of our initiatives, WorldSP.co and the Brussels Newsroom, around the Brussels Street Photography Festival, as sort of urban experiment inspired by the city we live in. The BSPF is somehow a collective strategy to deepen in the question of Brussels urban identity through the fresh eyes of its citizens and engaged photographers.

Also, due to the recent violent events, Brussels has been suffering from a quite dramatic misperception and bad press, so we aim with the Brussels Street Photography Festival to contribute to improve the perception of the image of Brussels both locally and internationally.

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© Bieke Depoorter/Magnum Photos

What are some of the challenges you have faced in organizing the festival?

It takes an extreme amount of time and efforts to organize an event such as this. Build up the whole idea from nothing, conquer your fears of failure, fight for what you love and transmit your passion for the art to other people has been very challenging, but so worth it. I can only be thankful to all the people who have helped me and trusted me along the way (they know who they are), but especially my 2 dear friends Sedaile and Diego from the Brussels Newsroom, who are my partners in the organization of the BSPF and have been there since the very beginning. Their unique views, expertise and love for culture has brought fresh views to mine, making the process an enjoyable rollercoaster ride.

Can you give us a quick profile of the speakers and activities to expect?

The program of the BSPF looks to explore street photography around different cultural events such as exhibitions, talks, lectures, round­tables, photo walks, portfolio critiques and workshops. The main exhibition for the BSPF will show the work of the selected finalists from the contests‘ entries (Deadline 15/9/16). There will be also a secondary exhibition featuring some of the work of the BSPF guests.

Both exhibitions will be open to all public for free at Galerie Ravenstein, Brussels and will be running from Friday 28th October until Friday 11th November 2016. All main activities (exhibitions, talks, lectures, round­tables and photo walks) for the BSPF are for free. Workshops and portfolio critiques require a fee. These activities will be happening from Wednesday 26th October until Wednesday 2nd November 2016.

The list of our guest photographers: Harry Gruyaert (Magnum Photos), Bieke Depoorter (Magnum Photos), David Gibson (iN­PUBLiC), Paul Russell (iN­PUBLiC), Tomasz Lazar (Fujifilm), Otto Snoek, Jens Olof Lasthein, Gaël Turine (Agence Vu), Cedric Gerbehaye (Agence Vu), Satoru Toma, Philippe Hebert, Dani Oshi (WorldSP.co), Jakub Jasionek (WorldSP.co), Chris Suspect (STRATA collective and WorldSP.co), Vineet Vohra (APF Magazine), Rohit Vohra (APF Magazine), Kristin Van den Eede (APF Magazine) and Kristof Vande Velde (APF Magazine).

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© Vineet Vohra

Any words you want add? And please do invite everyone to go to BSPF!

The Brussels Street Photography Festival is a unique event that gathers photographers and photography enthusiasts under the same roof, which is Brussels. Me and my team want to encourage everyone to participate in the contests and engage in the activities proposed in the festival to make it a great and successful event, and a worth repeating experience over the forthcoming years.

We want to not only highlight Street Photography as a beautiful means of art expression, but to put Brussels in the spotlight for contemporary artists and show them the cultural richness of this incredible city through the eyes of photography.

Come to Brussels and experience the BSPF this 28­-30 October!

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© David Gibson

BSPF Contest Reminders

The deadline for the BSPF Contests is on Sept. 15! You only have a few days left to submit your entries!

As Daniel have listed, BSPF has a great panel of curators and judges. This is your opportunity to have your work seen by their eyes and a chance to have your photos seen around. There’s an International contest and Brussels Based Contest. But most importantly, your entry fee will be used to fund and support BSPF. Now more than ever that photography communities should be supporting and reaching out to each other. If you won’t be able to join, as simple as spreading the word and telling your friends, photographers or otherwise, to check out and see what is happening and how we do things.

All the information is on the contest page of the website and all the contest terms and conditions are right here.

  • A.g.

By ERIC KIM

Artist-Philosopher