Youqine Lefèvre is a 23 year-old Belgian photographer presently living in Switzerland.
After getting a Bachelor in Fine Arts at the Graphic Research School of Brussels (Belgium) in 2014, she continued studying photography at the School of Applied Arts in Vevey (Switzerland).
With her series ‘Far from home’, she was recently selected as a finalist of the 20 Vfg nachswüchsförderpreis (young talents prize) and she is the laureate of the Photoforum prize 2016 (Switzerland).
About ‘Far from home’:
‘Far from home‘, away from home and family. This project is about children living in an isolated foster home in the mountains, and whose parents are temporarily unable to look after them.
Children, who have been deprived of what would have been an ordinary life path.
They have been transformed by past trauma and find themselves in a transition phase, caught between a world of innocence and of experience, stuck in an in-between, where the world of childhood persists somewhat nonetheless.
Intimacy, childhood, memory, family and its weaknesses are recurring topics in my artistic endeavor. I’m obsessed by these concepts for they are directly and deeply related to my personal history, my own adoption.
The challenge of this project is to be able to move beyond my own family and intimate problems towards something broad and open.
From the very beginning of this project I became aware of the fact that only the children in the foster home were the target of my camera, not the educators nor the parents. Their story is close to mine.
In my portraits, I try to capture moments when they let go of their guards, forget about the physical existence of the camera and the photographer to be their real selves. Getting over self-representation, the role that we think have to play facing the camera, in order to achieve the beauty of “being”.
I’m looking for weaknesses, perceptible hesitations; some sort of uncertainty and fragility echoed in the environment and not unrelated to the situation they are in.
Nature and landscape, both of which are highly present, are key elements in the series. They are the result, among others, of many wanderings and states of mind experienced when I found myself there.
Far from home is a long-term process, requiring patience. In which I set in certain “slowness”, the vector of proximity with the people and places photographed. I need to immerse myself in the environment, to create connections with the subjects, to somehow be part of the community as I move closer to children, both personally and formally.
After all, this is quest for intimacy. Besides, my photographs of landscapes, interiors and objects voluntarily withhold information to the point of becoming abstract. My artistic practice verges on the the documentary and the intimate. As the project progresses, it tends to swing increasingly towards the intimate.
Stone images are recurrent in the series; they are of a particular interest and value to two of boys in the foster home. Having no knowledge what so ever about lithotherapy, they invested the stones with power that enables them to comfort or soothe their anger for instance.
And when a child leaves the foster home forever, a stone is always offered to him by an educator, supposed to represent his personality.