Chance meetings determined where she would sleep. Depoorter spent the night with random families that she photographed, mostly in their living rooms. She has recorded the intimacy of these Russian families in an arresting fashion and with a keen eye for atmosphere, conditions and surroundings.
Not speaking a word of Russian, Depoorter let people know she was looking for a place to spend the night by jotting a few Russian sentences on a scrap of paper. She rarely stayed more than one night in the same place and often slept on the sofa, from where she was absorbed and welcomed into the heart of the family. Since Depoorter's visits were only brief, the people she met were very open with her and she was able to share some intimate moments of everyday life in Russia, from a young boy smoking in a hallway with peeling wallpaper to a trip to the sauna, and from little girls proudly doing their gymnastics in a room to eating and drinking with the family at their dinner table.
Bieke Depoorter (1986) lives and works in Ghent. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Arts in Ghent with a Masters degree in visual arts and photography. Ou Menya was her graduation project and it has won her various prizes, including the HP Magnum Expression Award in 2009. Depoorter is currently working on a new project entitled ‘I am about to call it a day', in which she will spend several months travelling through the United States of America using the same approach as she did in Russia. Depoorter has been a member of the Tendance Floue Collective in Paris since January 2011.
Bieke Depoorter has published a book entitled ‘Ou Menya' (Lannoo Publishing Group). (ISBN 9789020992137, € 34,99, hard cover, 128 p.).