VCSD: How long have you been making photographs?
WV: I have been taking photos since I was 16 (I am 32 now) but it feels like it has been only 4 years since I really started. Studying painting and printmaking, I got into the image making business ages ago. Where I am at now I feel like a painter with a camera.
My fascination with photography started with moving from Belgium to Australia in 2008, Belgium is the polar opposite of this island. Initially taking photographs was something practical; documenting my environment to show to my family and friends overseas what my new life looked like.
When I started sharing my pictures in blog form it gradually grew into something more autonomous. For as long as I can remember I had the urge to construct and share images.
VCSD: Tell us about a place you grew up in and where you live now.
WV: I grew up in a small, rural town in Flanders, Belgium. My family never moved house so my childhood is embedded into my old stamping grounds: cornfields, orchards and pine forests.
Canberra, Australia is a far cry from the limitations of Belgium. In this place your can get fucking lost, just drive out to any close-by national park, park your car and walk off without any sense of orientation. Canberra is a city in the middle of nowhere, a bush capital.
VCSD: What are your views on Canberra’s art scene?
WV: Canberra’s art scene is a bit problematic in my opinion. Being the nation’s capital this city has a number of big institutionalised galleries and museums. There aren’t enough smaller galleries offering a lower threshold to young artists.
To me the lack of a diverse art scene is actually quite liberating, I feel less in competition with fellow artists than I felt in Europe. I am grateful that in the years I have lived here I have met a number of inspiring people doing their own thing right here.
VCSD: Where do you look for inspirations/ideas/resources?
WV: I can be inspired by literally anything. I don’t limit myself to any subjects, anything on which I can enforce my narrative of the day will do just fine. Although it’s a far cry from what I do in my pictures I find Aboriginal art very inspiring. To me, living in a country like this, understanding the authentic culture and narratives is the only way to build a sense of belonging for myself.
Often I set out on my bike and slowly glide through the landscape scouting out places I discovered on Google Earth. My point of view is strongly coloured by Belgian surrealism, artists like René Magritte are part of my cultural inheritance. I have often described myself as a photographer in exile, an eternal tourist with a camera.
VCSD: If you had to pick a movie character or film that best describes your world of view, who/what would it be?
WV: The first thing that comes to mind is James Stewart’s character in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. A voyeur with a bunch of cameras, I can relate to that.
Although it’s quite a different world from the world I live in I feel a deep connection with Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man. It tells the story of Timothy Treadwell, a dude obsessed with grizzly bears who eventually gets eaten by one.
I am obsessed with the reality I live in and I know that eventually this reality will consume me and reduce me to dust.
VCSD: Anything you’re reading right now?
WV: I’m a pretty bad reader, my mind tends to wander off before I reach the end of a paragraph.
I still really like this selection of some of my early digital work by Saori Den for Curator Is Present.