Grits/Grids & Conversations

Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle

2018 - 2019

Chicago, Illinois, United States; Mississippi, United States; Missouri, United States; Louisiana, United States

In Grits/Grids & Converstations Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle depicts her journey through the United States, from Chicago to New Orleans. It started in 2018 when Ines, Yaro and Yaro’s father, Kenyatta, drove from Chicago to New Orleans to meet family members in different cities. In two stages, during two months, she visited her African-American in-laws for the first time and made extensive portraits of them.

Her journey arose from a fascination for African-American culture to which she, even while being white and European, gained access through her family/ boyfriend. The photographic medium also plays an essential role here; Ines was prominently present as a photographer and used the camera to make a connection with the people she portrayed. This resulted in intriguing and profound portraits that provide a sincere and dignified image of the people portrayed. Ines went back in 2019 to present and discuss her pictures and accompanying text with her subjects.

Looking at the photographs the viewer meets the family through diary fragments and truthful portraits. Both in her book and in the video presentation, the pattern of the journey is adhered to. Ines presents her travelling companions, her boyfriend and his father, as main characters. Throughout their encounters, new characters are introduced and the family tree slowly unfolds. The photographer herself is not only present through her intimate portraits, but also places text fragments with her own commentary and quotes from the family members next to the images in the book.

The whole project is a testimony of her being immersed in the Afro-American culture and her growing affection for Yaro’s relatives.

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