Arian/Nadine (camera lover model mother)

arian christiaens

2017 - Ongoing

About the work : Arian/Nadine (2017-now)

What do photographs tell us about the people we love? In which way can photography help us to understand relationships? What does it mean to ‘take a picture’ of a loved one? Can photography bring us closer together or does it only confront us with a distance?

In ‘Almost Silver’ Christiaens places her own relationship, her own person and her own image next to her mother’s. In an attempt to understand her ‘origin’ as a photographer, a woman, a mother and a lover, Arian Christiaens started to combine images from her parents’ archive with images of her own personal history. While doing this she questions the classical relation between the photographer and its model, between men and women. Time, and her own family history, play an important role in this photographical research project.

As a woman-photographer, Christiaens seeks contact with her partner; sometimes from outside the image, through the image; sometimes within the image, skin against skin. In addition, she places herself in relation to her mother, who in turn appears in old photographs in relation to her partner-photographer (Christiaens’ father). What position do both women occupy, then and now? Where do their images mix and overlap, where do they diverge; where do they escape from us, the viewer?

Christiaens also questions photography as a medium and the role of the camera. Is the lens a window to the other or a mirror of the self? Do we see ourselves in a photograph as another person? Who is in control, the photographer or the subject? What changes if the photographer steps into the image and becomes a part of the scene?

‘Almost Silver’ is an ongoing photographical investigation. The images will be edited and published as an artist book in 2022.


Arian Christiaens (°1981, Belgium), was born in a family of photographers. As a teenager she experimented with photography as an investigation of the ‘self’ and as a way to observe the relations within her family.

After graduating in Photography at KASK/School of Arts (2004, Ghent), Christiaens started working as a photographer and photography teacher and became the mother of two children.

Christiaens has always been photographing her sister Xenia, and this became her first large project, starting from 2018. In 2019 the artist book ‘Xenia’ was designed in collaboration with Jurgen Maelfeyt and published by Art Paper Editions. The book was on show during the exhibition ‘Photobook Belges Recent Publications’ at FOAM and was shortlisted for the ‘Arles Photobook Award 2019’.

When the pandemic caused a sudden lockdown in Belgium (March 2020), Christiaens took up a very spontaneous project. Each day, she made one family portrait. 57 photographs were posted on social media and caused vivid reactions from public and press.

In an attempt to understand her ‘origin’ as a photographer, a woman, a mother and a lover, Christiaens initiated to combine images from her parents’ archive with images of her own personal history for an upcoming project called ‘Arian/Nadine (camera lover model mother)’. Besides this, Christiaens is also working on a collaborative project with her son.

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