An interview with Belgian photographer Maroeskja Lavigne

Belgian Maroeskja Lavigne (22) has just graduated from Ghent’s KASK and has already made it into FOAM‘s reputed talent issue – the only Belgian to do so. Reason enough for us to take time out to chat with the talented young lady about her award winning Ìsland series, future plans and David Lynch.

At 22, you’re one of the youngest nominees to make the cut. How does that make you feel?

It’s very exciting but also very scary. Most of the others in the issue are already really in the business and I just graduated and still have my whole photography future ahead of me. I don’t really know yet what I want to do. I guess I’ll take it step by step – now I’m looking for a new project to work on.

When and how did you learn about your nomination for this year’s Foam Talent Issue?

I received an email. My boyfriend opened it and read it to me, and first I thought he was joking. I really had to sit down for a moment. I was pretty shocked. There are so many talented photographers in Belgium. I wasn’t counting on being selected, I just participated because I had had a conversation with a friend about participating in more competitions, just to get our stuff out there and be more visible.

How would you best define your approach to photography?

A lot of people make big concepts and create huge stories, but my approach is rather simple. I like to go outside, look at things, and find things that speak to me. With photography you can take a little frame out of the world and give it special attention. What interests me most in my photography is the relationship between humans and nature, and in Iceland you find plenty of that.

Why did you chose Iceland as a destination?

I was tired of school and the things I have to do there and wanted something totally different. Iceland really interested me. I like the whiteness, the way the colours come out more vividly and more clearly. It’s a perfect place for a photographer. Almost too perfect.

How do you see your career as a photographer panning out? Where do you see yourself five years?

That is such a hard question. I really don’t know. I really like to travel and experience lots of different places but I think I’d also want some kind of routine in my life. I guess I just want to work together with other people on interesting and innovative projects.

Which photographer(s) was/were a driving force in developing your aesthetic?

I’m mostly influenced by filmmakers, not photographers. One of my biggest influences for the Iceland series was probably David Lynch, the inspiration of all inspirations. And people actually do notice that. FOAM asked me if I was influenced by the movie ‘Fargo’ but I had never even seen it. I think my images evoke a stillness that is present in certain kinds of movies. My pictures have a lot in common with them. And when I was driving around Iceland I felt a bit like being in a movie. The one photographer I never get tired of is Steven Shore, I love what he does with colours and shapes and how he focuses on day-to-day subjects.