Laura is an Antwerp based photographer. On her website she introduces herself as follows: Laura was born in Antwerp, Belgium, but lived around the world as a child. This sparked an early love for different cultures and languages. She has always been drawn to beauty, in its many forms. While she studied anthropology and the Chinese language at the University of Louvain, photography is her greatest passion. She reached out to the Re:framing team after coming across the project. We had a chat.
Laura, you are portraying life in the Turnhoutsebaan in Antwerp and shared the four episodes of the photo-series with us. Can you tell us a bit more about the Turnhoutsebaan?
Turnhoutsebaan is a long and wide street in Antwerp which is regularly portrayed in local media as a problematic street in a shabby neighbourhood. As a result of this many inhabitants of our city have a very negative image of the people living in this lively cosmopolitan street.
You told us one of the reasons for starting your photo-project is the stereotypical negative reaction by outsiders to celebrations on the street when Belgians with Moroccan roots applauded wins by the Morrocan football team during the last football championships. What change do you want to bring about with your photos?
During the football celebrations of the Belgian-Moroccan community, the media described their rather one sided view on a few football hooligans that had started a riot and by doing so seemed to be blaming the whole community. I witnessed the event and saw that it was a street full of happy and dancing families with children. With this project I want to show real life in the street, the people that live and work there. I hope my pictures can show that newcomers and immigrants can really be an enrichment in our city. I hope these images can help the inhabitants that read the stigmatizing news items see that they have nothing to fear and can enjoy this street as much as the people I portray do.
How closely do you [plan to] collaborate with the communities that make up public life around Turnhoutsebaan?
I would love to continue with this project and portray more people in this interesting multicultural street. I am looking for collaborations with journalists that live in that area and that make part of those communities. It would be great to bundle the stories and images of the people in a book or an exhibition. In the meantime I am spending time doing fieldwork a couple of hours every day to prepare and shoot more so that the collection and insights on the topic can grow.