The Paris Magnum Live Lab invited Magnum photographers to work in the city for two weeks, responding to the location to produce whatever they wished. While the brief is totally open, for Bieke Depoorter, whose long-term projects often take years to develop, the time pressure and the open discussions about the project as it developed felt a little daunting. “I normally work on very long-term personal projects and I am used to doing things by myself, without talking about it too much,” she says, but adds, optimistically, “It’s good to challenge yourself from time to time. Such a two weeks really makes you think about your own practice and about photography in general.”
Roaming the streets of Paris in search of inspiration, Depoorter found herself tapping into her characteristic intuitive approach: “I let myself be guided by the moment, by my own feelings, by the people I meet, by the place.” In doing so, Depoorter began to develop an atmosphere in her mind’s eye, which directed her search as she scanned Paris for the right person to help her express this nascent idea.
"I let myself be guided by the moment"
- Bieke Depoorter
“I was wandering around at night to find someone: people I feel attracted and inspired by, people that could help me to tell my story — a story that would be partially theirs as well. This is how I found Agata.” Depoorter met Agata on the third night of the Live Lab project when she went for a drink at a striptease bar. The pair connected and spent the following days together, on one occasion at Agata’s home in the few dark hours before she would leave for work, and other locations chosen by Agata. What transpired was a photo story that walks a thin line between documentary and fiction, with both the photographer and subject becoming contributors in the narrative.
The Live Lab took place at the Spéos International Photo & Video School.