"Sauvage" by Katlijn Blanchaert

Mar 28, 2017

Katlijn is a Belgian photographer with affinity for dark atmospheres and beneath-the-surface topics. Her work explores the unconscious, those uncanny feelings which inhabit our minds and that Katlijn brings to the surface through audacious images. In her series “Sauvage”, Katlijn explores Carl Jung’s theory about our unconscious ‘shadow’ and presents us a series of emotive images that reflect unusual desires.


Following we want to present the nice interview that we had with Katlijn:


am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?

KB - I’m from Ghent, Belgium. At the moment I’m trying to find the right balance between a full time job and my photo projects, but that’s not easy. Since I started photographing the world became more interesting and I see stories develop everywhere I look. Also travelling isn’t anymore without a photographic idea in my head or a photofestival like Les Rencontres d’ Arles.


am - How did you start in photography?

KB - It took me ten years to start studying photography, because I knew once I started there was no way back and that scared me a little. But finally one day I just signed up at the Academy of Visual Art in Ghent. And the past two years I was guided by mentormentor, a new initiative in Ghent. During my education I tried different techniques and ways to approach a story. I think I have found my own style while making "Sauvage".


am - What inspires your work?

KB - I am wandering through life with a big inner turmoil and unstoppable curiosity, so the beneath- the- surface- mood takes a central place in my explorations of nature’s dark side and personal obsessions.

With an affinity for dark settings and odd atmospheres I find myself visiting places I would otherwise never go to, meeting people I would otherwise never meet. Like Diane Arbus said “My favourite thing is to go where I’ve never been”.


am - What is “Sauvage” about?

KB - The inspiration for ‘Sauvage’ was a theory of Carl Jung.

“Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.

I searched the Internet for people who were willing to pose for me. During these brief encounters with anonymous individuals in raunchy hotel rooms intense conversations evolved and hidden emotions appeared. I observed with awe and respect how people showed their vulnerability.

With this project I wanted to submerge the viewer in the existence of an intimate world of unusual desires and characters.


am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?

KB - I like Diane Arbus, Antoine D’Agata, Dirk Braeckman, Helmut Newton, Ed van der Elsken, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ulrich Seidl, David Lynch, Michael Borremans, Eric Fischl…

I am also very grateful for what Gert Jochems taught me when he was my mentor for 2 years, he was very generous sharing his knowledge. He faithfully follows his own path, has an interesting vision and works very hard for it.

And from Ghent, Thomas Vandenberghe and Christophe Simoen are making very consistent work that I like.


am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?

KB - Japan. I always thought that only Tokio would interest me, but after seeing the documentary ‘Joanna Lumley’s Japan’ I believe in an interesting  combination of the slow, silent countryside and the impressive big towns.


am - What’s your favourite movie?

KB - I can’t choose between La Pianiste (Michael Haneke) and Lost in translation (Sofia Coppola)…

‘La Pianiste’ because of the impressive performance of Isabelle Hupert and because I like these kind of uncomfortable situations in movies (likewise Ulrich Seidl’s ‘Paradise’ trilogy). It’s also a good example of the theory of Carl Jung that inspired me for Sauvage. I was quite impressed when I saw it the first time.

‘Lost in translation’ because of the kind of intimacy they share, because of the things that don’t happen and the words you can’t hear.  And also, Bill Murray, my favourite actor, makes my heart tremble in this role.


am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?

KB - I am working on a big project for the moment for which I will need to start a crowdfunding. I will be working together with a writer to make a book about female lion tamers.


am - What is your favourite photo book?

KB - ‘Chiro Love Death’ by Nobuyoshi Araki. Some years ago I bought a little book in the bookshop of Centre Pompidou. I was attracted by the cover, a photo of a dead cat. The title and the name of the photographer were not in English, so I didn’t know the author. Standing there in the bookshop, between hundreds of photobooks, with this strange little book in my hands I was intrigued, wanting to know more about it, so I decided to buy it. Back home I started looking for more information about it on the Internet and I found out that the photoghrapher was Araki. The bondage photos, that are combined with the cat photos, should have ring a bell, but at that point I wasn’t familiar enough with the work of Araki.

When I read the story and saw the photos of Sentimental Journey I was so impressed and only then I understood what ‘Chiro Love Death’ was about. Dealing with another big loss, he obsessively photographs the last 3 months of Chiro’s live and relives the loss of his wife.

It affected me so much because in a way I’m also dealing with death of a loved one by photographing and collecting dead animals. I’m fascinated by dead animals, but dead people frighten me.

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