Printed Matter

Arian Christiaens

What do photos tell us about the people we love, about the people we relate to? What do pictures tell us about ourselves, and about how we relate to the other? Can photography help us to understand that relationship? What is the meaning of the act of photographing, and of being photographed? Can photography bring us closer to each other?

Publication Xenia
Artists Arian Christiaens
Graphic design Arian Christiaens & Jurgen Maelfeyt (6′56″)
Publisher Art Paper Editions
Dimensions 23 × 31 cm
Pages 64 pages
Binding staples bound
ISBN 9789493146020
Available here

These are the questions Christiaens asks herself, each time, through a personal and intimate narrative about family and relationships.

In her book Xenia (2019), Christiaens shows a series of portraits of her sister, who used to be her brother. The photographs bridge a period of seventeen years but bring anything but a straightforward story. Instead, there is a fragmented sequence of postures and glances, built up from time-jumps forwards and backward, of external features behind which an inner life of feeling hides.

The identity of Xenia, which is constantly in motion here, cannot simply be captured by photography. A highlight of this is immediately clear in the opening sequence where is a heightened awareness noticeable in Xenia, both of herself and of the camera.
In twelve portraits made in quick succession, where Xenia stands in front of a purple curtain in a white sweater and with hair combed back, a subtle game of posing and photographing develops. What does the person reveal for the lens and what can the lens even capture at all? Nothing is revealed, nothing is right there on the surface.

Above all, however, Xenia is about two sisters, about their intimate bond; about their way of showing themselves and of seeing the other and trying to understand. It is partly thanks to that unique relationship, and the environment of trust in which it exists, that in addition to a constructed image, we also get an honest and nuanced picture of Xenia and her personality. — text by Stefan Vanthuyne, 2021

You may also like