Soul Hotel by Peter Waterschoot

Peter Waterschoot is a fascinating photographer of mental landscapes, melancholia and neon poetry. He will be releasing his new work Soul Hotel this winter and we have the pleasure to be featuring some samples of his latest project. Read on about what Soul Hotel is all about. Vernissage Soul Hotel Show 1 – October 5-6.2014 at 44 GALLERY CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY, Genthof 44, 8000 Brügge FB Event: here

“SOUL HOTEL part one; Reclusion – {think I’m in Love with Time} – Peter Waterschoot (BE) I have worked about 2 years on Soul Hotel{think Im in Love with Time}, and it’s clear I can go on doing this for another 2 years. Which will result in a part one and two of SH, but I already present the first part. 2015 I will self publish SH part one as a photobook. Soul hotel is an experiment in mental documentary. It feels like a labyrinth, a faustian fight. Soul hotel is not about hotels, Soul Hotel is about the Soul. More specifically, in times of a progressive logic, involving the passe partout formula ‘destroy and rebuild’, many of our contemporary heritage is getting lost forever. This shouldn’t be necessarily so. We don’t always need to replace things, we just need to better them. And ‘charm’ has it’s function too. Things recognisable are important to people. Texture becomes part of an identity. A way of seeing things. I see the demolishing of the Old World as psychological agression. As a photographer, I am confronted with the difficulty of staying ahead of the vigour of the people filling mixed debris -containers accompanying any given renovation and/or demolishment.


I have a) been searching for the textures and spirit I grew up with, (I was born in 69 so I grew up in the seventies and eighties), and b) looking for the Soul of old movies and cinema magazines. These influences directed me towards a film noir feeling in my photography. I decided to go ‘time travelling’ and look for ‘out of time places’ on the internet. The location hunt was open. Railway station neighbourhoods, forgotten roads and coastal towns were my hunting ground. I found myself checking in, again and again, into a genre of hotels where time and space seem absent. I experienced a weightlessness in time myself, watching ceilings and flowered wallpaper. Hence a Soul experience as an author.


The title of my first photobook ‘ the seventh Row of Seats’ refers tot the best seat in a theater. I used this metaphor as contemporary man is watching the downfall of our earthly habitat, from an easy chair. O. Spenglers ‘ Untergang des Abendlandes’ pushed me towards a dystopic, symbolic sleepwalk through nightly blue and black, watching our environment, fauna and flora, with specific interest in simulacra and exotic elements. Through this mimetic queste in nighttime photography, I developed an alter ego, flirting with what I might call ‘tropical spleen’ and ‘neon poetry’.


SOUL HOTEL continues this ‘sleepwalk’ approach. In a number of ‘disappearing acts’ I traveled to quite particular hotels ‘at the edge of time’. This method sent me on roadtrips in Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Italy, and Germany. Soul hOtel, as a photowork, questions in a way the aesthetic idea of what it means to be a European. It questions our memory. Who were we, only 10,20, 30 years ago? The shiny, brisk, glossy world that is rapidly growing around us, does not contain any of our aesthetic particularities, denies any collective taste and or preference rooted in recent history. Old lettertypes disappear, products change shape, (although they were quite recognisable, iconic, and good enough as they were). Progressive thinking should not always imply demolition of the past. We need to be careful with this, we might not recognise ourselves anymore. A deracination of people without them moving, is happening worldwide. It’s the trick with the tablecloth, you pull the tablecloth abruptly from underneath, and the pepper and salt wil still be standing there, naked though, on a cold glass tabletop.


I chose this reclusion and emotional immersion in ‘neon nostalgia’ as a theme and working method. The result is a mental documentary that questions the world we are living in. What do we still recognise? What do we think doesn’t exist anymore? What would we want to preserve? What dirty things do we cherish? Which are the freedoms we don’t want to loose? The collage I am creating is real, but at the same time it is a fiction, consisting of remains of that old world where things were done differently. In my pictures; rooms and spaces are actors in a dilapidating theatre. The images can be comforting or discomforting. Depending on the eye of the beholder.”

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