by Peter Waterschoot

monastery (n.)
c.1400, from Old French monastere “monastery” (14c.) and directly from Late Latin monasterium, from Ecclesiastical Greek monasterion “a monastery,” from monazein “to live alone,” from monos “alone” (see mono-). With suffix -terion “place for (doing something).” says the etymologic dictionary.

© Volume II: The hills were green and so were we - Lore Horré

Belgian photographers Iphygenia Dubois and Lore Horré found a place of total reclusion near the Franco-Belgian border. In a small town called VELAINES there is a monastery which used to host ‘Les pères Oblats de Marie Immaculée’. Used to. The place is completely abandoned. All of the old monks have passed away. Only a nightporter was still present at the time Iphygenia and Lore decided to stay there. They spent quite some time in this remote place. About 3 months living another rhythm. Experiencing silence. In a place like this, time has no real indication except sunrise and sunset, time has run slow here for decades and decades. Old men have lived the winter of their lives in this tranquility, in the varying light of all seasons.

© Lore Horré

Think about our futile business here on earth. What do you do in the rat-race in an outside world. In the outside world you wil never experience time like you will here. Let’s quote Hojoki regarding this aspect of life: “ The flow of the moving river is ceaseless, yet it is not the original water that it was. The foam floating in pools now breaks up, now comes together, and in no instance does it pause for long. The people in the world and their dwellings are also thus”.

The book MAGNOLIA was photographed and assembled in period of 3 months time which included the stay in the monastery. From February until May. From winter’s bone up to the short time the magnolia tree blooms. Only in contact with nature you can experience the fading of winter and the coming of spring. Iphygenia and Lore witnessed little lambs being born, but they had to witness them dying shortly after birth, too.

Magnolia consist of 2 books. Book one 'the hills were green and so were we’ by Lore and book two 'Motionless’ by Iphygenia Dubois. Both are kept together in one cover.

© Volume I: Motionless - Iphygenia Dubois

Making a book in a duo is quite a statement. Both books are bound together by a slip-cover, they function like siamese twins but at the same time they stand alone, in their own photographic identities. Experience a same setting viewed in a totally different way. A look through 2 different keyholes, 2 different windows. The combination of both gives the reader of the book a false kind of objectivity. You compare, try to find the overlap. You want to discover in just how far both female photographers extend into each other, best friends, colleagues of the same guild.

© Iphygenia Dubois

Lore works exclusively black and white ( except one duo portrait in color ), Iphygenia alternates color and black and white. Lore seems to articulate more of the psychological counterpoint of such a reclusive stay and thus handles the relationship with her fellow explorer more than Iphygenia who clearly dwelled in this photographical cornucopia with a keen eye for detail and composition. Iphygenia mostly works with the 'objet trouvé’, Lore works more with the 'objet intime’, but both let go of their strategy at times and cross over to the other side. This way both of the books do get a deeper intensity in their joint themes. They are not only books about a place; showing puzzle-pieces, piles of mattresses, empty corridors, washing basins, blossoming trees, crucifixes, but also folded hands, girls things, a comb in wet blond hair, breasts in a cute see through bra. Apart from the setting, they also needed to tackle the aspect of how they experienced each other. The most beautiful of all that can be called our condition humaine, we are not only thrown in this world, we are also 'thrown on each other’, on other human beings, we can’t do easily without, and this we need to accept. The smaller a community the more clearly interdependency arises.

© Iphygenia Dubois

Most of all, magnolia is a book made by 2 photographers in their early twenties, it shows us a story about a silently letting go of a certain era, it’s all about a Coming of Age. This in stark contrast with the knowledge of all the departed monks who have lived their last days in the silence of their knowledge in these very same spaces. Magnolia therefore carries a collision between 'spring of youth’ and 'winter of life’.

I’d say; RIP Velaines. A big thanks to both photographers for introducing us to, first of all, themselves and secondly, to such a unique and intriguing place.


Iphygenia Dubois 
Lore Horré