Caroline Van PouckeFor her photography, Caroline Alida is being led by topics of her own interest. As by coincidence she follows a certain path, as a kind of serendipity.

For many years she traveled in Africa, as she was fascinated by the emptiness of the vast surfaces, especially in Niger, which she at least visited a dozen times since 2001. What she felt over there was the complete opposite of what we experience in our western world. How to deal with almost nothing: almost no water, almost no food, almost no goods, almost no facilities, almost no protection. The lack of everything. It struck her how people went along with this in a very creative way. She had a deep respect for these people. Her personal projects started with the idea of showing those people to the western world.

She focuses on human interest photography of marginal people. The latter present themselves in their own habitat, yet not active. Most of her pictures are made in poor ambient light, marked in a dramatic, sensitive way. The sober, often dark black and white portraits have been stripped of all superfluities, and in this way evoke a contemplative atmosphere. These mesmerising close-up portraits show in a peculiar way the inner world of vulnerable, seeking, musing or proud people.

Her portraits are far from snapshots. Equipped with an analog camera, Hasselblad, and tripod she masters a slow kind of photography. The portrayed people are never by accident in front of her camera, she got acquainted with them before. In front of the camera, the people were relaxed and even occupied with inner thoughts. With tireless efforts she not only captured the striking faces of Bori, kind of West-African shamans, and Marabouts, but also she was attracted by social themes such as children guiding blind people, abused kids, prostitutes and other outcasts. She is intrigued by the idea if the viewer of her photographs can catch a glimpse of their souls.

In addition to these portraits Caroline Alida also surveys the vast spaces surrounding these people. The result is the reflection of an outer world in an inner world and vice versa.

Recently she explored completely other territories. Although the content of her search remained pretty much the same, the surroundings were definitely different. The remote area of mid Siberia brought her back to the traces of a spiritual world. Again she gained the confidence of lots of shamans who are itinerants in the realm of myth where past and present is no longer distinguishable.

Her new project 'Hearing Songs in Pine Trees' not only reveals mystical vibrations, you can also feel through her portraits she is not afraid to approach the people with a very open mind. Her pictures reveal a sense of sadness, and yet at the same time a timeless beauty which comes from within. The different layers of emotions can only be caught when observing the pictures without prejudice. The photograph turns into a poem, except that it captures what is changeable and intangible.

Portret of Caroline Alida by Isabelle Vandewalle.