In her solo exhibition A Chance Encounter, Bieke Depoorter presents Agata and Michael, two series that begin with chance encounters. Personal relationships with the people featured in her photographs, which were developed over the course of several years, significantly influence Depoorter’s artistic practice. Depoorter challenges the medium of photography while blurring the traditional relationship between photographer and subject. The stories of her protagonists reflect topics such as social stigma, breaking taboos, and the inclusion of people who are often overlooked in society.

In Michael, Depoorter examines the life and the disappearance of a man she met on the streets of Portland in 2015. He gave her three suitcases full of personal items, sketchbooks, and essays, providing her with an intimate view of his feelings and thoughts. Working with the precision of a detective, Depoorter tries to track Michael down and understand his life. In addition to documenting his existence, she immerses herself in his life, increasingly imitating his way of thinking and his actions, which to outsiders may seem quite erratic or odd. At what point does a photographic search for traces turn into an obsession? Why do we accept the disappearance of those people who particularly warrant protection?

In her ongoing collaboration with Agata Kay, a young woman she met in a striptease bar in Paris in October 2017, Depoorter explores the complex relationship that has formed between the two women over more than four years. Their close and unfiltered cooperation in this shared project enables the young Magnum photographer to share an intimate look at their friendship. By combining her portraits of Agata with Agata’s written analysis of the pictures, Depoorter creates a fascinating visual narrative about illusions and truth, photographic identity, personal authenticity, artistic authorship, and personal limits.

C/O Berlin presents both of these universal works by the Magnum photographer, consisting of installations, wall pieces, projections, and photographs, in Bieke Depoorter. A Chance Encounter. This is the first major solo exhibition to feature the artist in Berlin. The second edition of the photo book Agata was published in March 2022. Curated by Felix Hoffmann, C/O Berlin Foundation. Part of PHotoEspaña 2022.

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