First photography was a way to hide myself, hide behind the camera. Now it has become a way to show myself.
I remember bumping into Miet’s work online a couple of years back. She is one of those photographers that stayed with me through the years and I would go back to every once in a while to silently watch her progress and skills evolve. Miet van Hee’s work is raw, honest and grabs you by the hair. She portrays herself, her surroundings and the people in her life and creates a great sense of narrative without forcing a viewer in a certain direction. Her work is very voyeuristic, like we found the photographer’s diary in a drawer somewhere and are flipping through it, even though we are not allowed to do so. I was attracted to the work, not only because of the great visual language, but most of all for the honesty and the sense of struggle, usually with the self. The search for what it is you actually want from life, the impact others have on our hopes and dreams, our sense of self. But I’ll shut up about my interpretation of Miet’s work and let her speak for herself.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? Your background. Where did you grow up? What’s your favourite childhood memory?
I was born and raised in Westvleteren, a small village in Belgium. My favourite childhood memory is building a tent in the garden and then eating rhubarb with a whole lot of sugar inside of the tent. And trying to dig a swimming pool in the sandpit. I spent a lot of time playing outside and reading.
How would you describe your work?
I recently discovered that I don’t consider myself to be a photographer. I love working with pictures and taking them but above that I want/need to live, fully. If I would stop doing that, there is no more need for pictures or expressing myself. First photography was a way to hide myself, hide behind the camera. Now it has become a way to show myself.
It looks like you picture places and people that are fuelled by a desire for freedom. Is this something you aspire to? Absolute freedom? And how do you think one can accomplish this?
I don’t think I aspire to be free, but becoming my true, genuine self is very important and is, in a way, very freeing. It means letting go of ideas you have of yourself and how you want your life to be. A life lived by other people’s expectations is not what I want.
Why is photography your medium? Have you ever tried telling stories through different media?
Photography is what I know best, it’s the first medium that got me interested in creating something. I haven’t really tried other media but moving image is very appealing at this point. We’ll see.
Is there anything you’d like to accomplish with your photography and if so, what would that be?
I think I would like it to be seen by more people. Not only on the internet but also in the form of exhibitions. But it’s kind of scary sometimes, to show so much of yourself. I don’t know if that really answers your question but that’s the only thing I could think of.
Can you tell us a little bit about your project ‘Of All the Things I am?
Of all the things I am…” is an ongoing project on how to connect with others, nature, the self and also the medium photography on a deeper level. The search for this connection, or the lack of it, is explored and expressed in a series of (self) portraits, landscapes, polaroids and diary fragments.
You are currently working on a dummy for your project ‘Of All the Things I am,’ why do you decide to print your work in this digital age?
I love how different photography works on screen or prints. It just becomes completely new work. I guess that’s partly because the intention is different. The internet is considered fast, while a book is considered slow. Both for the artist and the reader the intention is different. The dummy has been a little bit of a struggle, sometimes I think my work is too fluid to put into a book but I’m still trying to translate my work into this medium. It’s a lot easier for me to work on walls and my blog because it’s less definite.
Your blog’s name is ‘mooier dan in het echt’ (more beautiful than in real life), why did you pick it? Does this represent the view you have on photography as a medium that does not always tell the truth or am I assuming things now?
For me it’s logical that photography doesn’t tell the truth. There is no such thing as the truth. It’s only one way of seeing the world. But I think my photographs have become more truthful than they used to be. When I started this blog I was really searching for beauty. Now I’m looking for what makes sense at that moment in that place. That’s the same for when I show my work on walls, it’s always different because sometimes things just (don’t) work.
Who or what inspires you artistically? Can you name some of your favourite artists?
For me, the most interesting part about photography is the creating part. Sometimes I can’t be bothered looking at other people’s work. I’m more inspired by atmospheres. They can be created by art of course, but also by how people live their life in general.
How do you hope to grow as an artist?
I hope to let go of the fear of really showing my photographs and myself.
What is the best advice you ever had as a photographer?
Just do it!
Who should we interview next?
Vincent delbrouck, Cemil Batur Gökçeer.