Theory & Practice

Completely Half, A Music Video by Bieke Depoorter

Depoorter describes the process of close creative collaboration between herself and musician Bolis Pupul for the first music video of his début album, Letter to Yu.

In November 2023, the music video for Boris Pupul’s single Completely Half was released in anticipation of his début album, Letter to Yu. The video, complete with cinematic shots of Hong Kong at night and a subtle intrigue, was directed by Bieke Depoorter, who has been collaborating with the Belgian-born artist since 2022. 

Depoorter is no stranger to video, with her photographic practice having expanded over the years to incorporate the moving image. Her début short film, Dvalemodus, made with Mattias de Craene and released in 2017, explored the darkness of an isolated island in northern Norway in a blend of fiction and documentary. But last year, Depoorter took on a new challenge — directing the music video for her partner, Pupul. 

The video was shot in Hong Kong, with Depoorter taking on the role of both Director and Director of Photography. The song, Completely Half, was written for and dedicated to Pupul’s late mother, Wei Wun Yu, who was born in the city. In an interview with Pitchfork, Pupul describes how he wrote the song the first time he visited Hong Kong in 2018. 

“As I wandered through neighborhoods, her presence was always there, I would see her for a split second before realizing it wasn’t her and she’d vanish again,” he writes. “The feeling that we are all connected and we can see ourselves in each other; a state of inter-being was a sad but also comforting thought.” 

The feeling of walking around a familiar place and waiting in unconscious anticipation is reflected through Depoorter’s lens. We see Popul alone on a ferry boat, the lights of Hong Kong glittering in the background, or walking through the neon-illuminated streets, somehow still isolated among the throngs of people.

“It was a very special moment to go to Hong Kong, knowing how much it means to him, and to see the city and try to see it as how he sees it, which of course is impossible. I loved to observe Bolis, observing,” she explains. “His music is a reaction to the city and the surroundings and the video became a reaction to that.” Depoorter therefore found herself embodying Pupul’s deeply personal story through her lens in an intimate and collaborative form of creative expression.

“We walked around the city, and I tried to observe him, to see how he was acting, and how he was feeling while he tried to find connections with the people there. In Hong Kong, it’s as if he sometimes feels lost and alone, but yet things still feel familiar and connected, so I tried to capture that visually.” 

"We let chance guide us through different neighborhoods."


The two, accompanied on occasion by a translator to help navigate and communicate, spent a few days walking around the city. “We went to the street where his mother was born, we took the ferry, mostly wandered around in the evenings, took the train, ate spicy crab — we let chance guide us through different neighborhoods,” Depoorter explains.

“We would explore random buildings and apartment blocks in the streets, often climbing the stairs to the top floors. We’d knock on people’s doors and talk to them, sometimes entering into their homes.” This is an approach that mirrors Depoorter’s photographic practice with projects such as Ou Menya, ‘I am about to call it a day’ or As It May Be, where she traveled through Russia, then USA, and then Egypt, staying in people’s homes along the way and letting chance encounters guide each series.

Film still from the video "Completely Half."

“There was no specific storyboard beforehand, we just knew we wanted to shoot at night, and we wanted to see if Bolis would recognize his mother in other people during this trip too. We allowed ourselves to get lost, but also wanted to find connection and see what happens behind the clothes drying outside in the hallways of the huge apartment buildings,” she says now of the video.

"I found that photography had too many limits, I needed to get the impression of time passing."


“I’m always drawn to other ways of telling stories,” she adds. “I was first drawn to film when I was working on the concept around Dvalemodus. I found that photography had too many limits, I needed to get the impression of time passing. Ultimately, it is a medium that I would like to explore more.”

Collaboration, and working to understand and portray another, is a skill that has always been central to Depoorter’s practice. It is also the theme of her upcoming workshop, Locating the Self, which takes place from April 21 to April 26 in Tirana, Albania. Open to photographers, filmmakers, and visual artists of all levels, the workshop aims to help individuals tell intimate stories through visual storytelling. “You can interpret the theme of ‘collaboration’ as widely as you can. It could be collaborating with a model, an archive, a family member, a writer, the subject, or a psychologist…” Depoorter describes. “I do not see photography as a one-way conversation, so let’s think about that.” 

Bolis Pupul’s début album, Letters to Yu, was released on March 8 by Because Music. 

Only a few spots remain for Bieke Depoorter’s workshop in Tirana, Albania, from April 21–26. Find out more and reserve your place here

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