Photographer Yuri Andries is fascinated by the power of photography which can both documents reality but also stimulates the imagination. He creates images where people and the environment interact with each other. In his universes where the human being is the only palpable scale, Yuri Andries makes photojournalism a practice where the imaginary has its very special place.
I don’t believe this was a specific moment in time, but my first year at the Royal Acadamy of fine arts certainly ignited this love to another level. When studying Graphic design, I went to the library every week to lose myself in all these different worlds of the photobook section. To name a few photographers that soon ended up on my shelf: Larry Sultan, Tierney Gearon, Harry Gruyaert, Carl De Keyzer, Lars Tunbjörk, Philip Lorca Dicorcia, … What fascinated me the most was the medium tense relationship with reality and its function both as a documentary medium and a means to stimulate the imagination.
I believe I am most proud of what I am working on right now. But that’s probably the same for a lot of artists. It’s the first time I am working on a longer-term project and it is very liberating. I have worked closely with people before (In Memory Of A Monolith), but now I am working in collaboration with the subject who is a writer and an actor. To lift a tip of the veil: The aim is to capture deepest desires in fiction to the chagrin of someone’s reality. It is an investigation into where fiction and reality meet, a performance where the character and the actor’s identity are intertwined.
No matter if I am working on an assignment or personal work, I always look for the approach that I find most suitable for what I am trying to tell with the time that I have. Sometimes this means hunting for photographs like a street photographer. Sometimes this means being in a place without my camera for days with just a notebook. Once my camera comes out, color and light help me to build the atmosphere that I am looking for. Also the editing process helps me to get that feel. But the goal is always to make it look natural so the editing doesn’t take the upper hand.
It’s true that these elements came back in every series that I have made so far, but I am not sure if this will be a continuous. The approach was always different. When working on ‘In Memory Of A Monolith’ I had to earn a lot of trust before people were comfortable to pose naked. Everything was staged and directed (with artificial lights). So there was a lot of work before even taking my camera out. For ‘Moonland’, there was a lot of preparation as well, but most of the time I had to be lucky for what I would encounter on my way. The same counts for ‘The New Silk Road’. During my short time in Gansu, I was working on an assignment for Suitcase, a travel magazine. The concept was simple: I was a modern pioneer retracing the footsteps of Marco Polo. Because I had done some research about the region and Jinping’s attempt to make it bloom, I couldn’t help myself to also turn my lens to the less beautiful side of things. This time nothing was staged, because it wasn’t necessary.