The Dialog Window: Collections of Everything on Windowsills Across Belgium
A French photographer based in Belgium. Jean-Luc has been engaged in photography since the age of 14. He is a member of the Salamandre creative team. His works are exhibited at the Verhaeren, Tricotrie, and HIC galleries in Brussels and the Passage à l'Art gallery in France.
– I started photographing when I was a teenager, learned the techniques of developing film photographs, and then smoothly moved on to creating photo projects. I wanted to become a war photographer, but life turned out differently, and now I work as a press attaché, and I devote my free time to creativity.
I was looking for a simple project topic that I could tackle every day on my way to and from work. I live in Belgium, and at that moment I just moved to another area of Brussels. One day I was walking down the street and saw a Lego toy house on display in the window. Next to it, five or six kids were telling passers-by that a friend had built that house. I thought that each window has its own story; this is how my pilgrimage through the streets of Brussels began.
The simplicity of conception and execution are the main motives of my project. I could not carry complicated equipment on my way to work, so I got by with an old Nikon D700 and a camera on my phone. The most important thing for me was to find bright, eccentric, strange windows in a beautiful frame. I also tried to choose clean windows and, as far as possible, not look too suspicious. But once I did get arrested. I wanted to show the police my photos and explain the essence of my project, but my phone, as luck would have it, ran out of battery. I had to go to the station, charge the phone and talk about my creative research.
I tried to choose clean windows and, as far as possible, not look suspicious. But once I did get arrested.
Sometimes I was able to talk to those who live behind the glass. I met an elderly couple who set up on a windowsill a whole mausoleum dedicated to Elvis Presley. These people are big fans of the “King of Rock and Roll,” and their dedication to him and his work seemed very touching to me. I also talked to the owner of the stuffed fox. He is a taxidermist and a provocateur. He uses his window to display his new work and then argues enthusiastically with neighbors and animal activists passing by.
There are a few of my favorite pieces of work in this project. One of them is a photograph with the figures of a bride and a groom displayed on a windowsill of a rural house in the Belgian wilderness, which immediately tunes me into a sentimental and lyrical mood. Another one is a shot of a window with rolls of toilet paper for sale: it is one of my last works, and, in my opinion, it accurately reflects the essence of the project. When the moment is right, even the most commonplace thing in the world can look unusual.
When the moment is right, even the most commonplace thing in the world can look unusual.
I think that a window is a communication tool. It is an intermediary that simultaneously conveys a message and allows you to take a deep look into someone’s life. The people of Brussels have always decorated their windows, and this tradition has taken on special significance during the time of quarantine and social exclusion. People began to write on the windows encouraging messages to doctors, greetings to bystanders, advertisements for the sale of masks.
Through the window, we can show the world some of our passion, hobbies, and secrets. It is a great way to interact with the reality around us, which can bring unexpected acquaintances and help to dispel the usual routine a little. Unfortunately, there is no such window in my house. But if there was, I would definitely arrange a small pop-up gallery of my works.
Translated by Lubov Borshevsky