We recently published an article about Andri Søren Haflidason and his photographic project “Brussels Breathes”, and now we’d like to share with you his video of the same name, which launched the project.
At the time (2010) there were very few (if any) positive video portrayals of the city to be found online. The original message that he first posted and that inspired the video can be found below:
From the heart:
Brussels, I love you. As if you were a living, breathing, thing. You are indeed a collection of streets, buildings, stones, and much more, but I swear that in the morning…we can hear you breathe, on a warm Summer’s day…feel you relax underneath us, and on a cold Winter’s night, you curl yourself up tightly…as do we. I didn’t see it at first, not at all, but over these years you became first a friend, then a companion, and then a part of me, something I never expected.
If I…had to imagine you as a piece of music, I couldn’t chose one piece, or one kind. My soundtrack to you has always been as rich and diverse as you are; sometimes massive and dramatic, sometimes gentle and charming, sometimes electronic and breathless. During the years that I have lived here, I have found your seasons always beautiful, always intense. This is my small tribute to, in particular, the Summer of 2010, the time we finally appeared to part ways.
Brussels…sometimes you nearly made me cry, as I sat on your rooftops, or lay down somewhere upon you, and stared out at a place which continued to surprise me, and bring wonder and mystery to life. If I’ve lost this feeling, I haven’t forgotten it, and like love itself, I wonder what has happened, where it has gone. I hope desperately for things to change, to go back as they were. But we know that will never be. Life goes on, and places, just as people, change.
From the heart…one which yearns to feel that delirious, beautiful Brussels again.
From the head:
Earlier this year, I started a project which was an attempt to record, and indeed resuscitate my love of the ‘quietly glorious’ city of Brussels. So many times I had thought to myself, why do we see (in the ‘mass’ of the media) so few homages to this charming, beautiful, and surprising place. I found this, and still find it, astonishing. This town has charm; the unexpected, the surreal, the absurd. It is dramatically honest, uncharacteristically modest, yet calmly dramatic.
I thought to myself, it’s waiting to be done; something which begins to show what makes Brussels so great, so loved, in fact, even when these words are so rarely used in describing this place. For almost half a year, almost every weekend, I carried my camera around with me, sitting down for hours on end, watching the city, looking for these ‘slices of magic’ which characterise the city. The way I imagined it should be is not as it has turned out, and I have learned a lot, through this, and after those months, I now see how differently I would do it if I would do it again.
After much experimentation, I found a structure for the film which follows the structure of a day; moving from light to dark, and starting at the small scale, low down, then moving higher, and further up. The title comes from the fact that the very first footage I put to the wonderful soundtrack from Goldfrapp was that of the grass appearing to “breathe” as the sun passes across the sky. I found this moment to be one of the most surprising and atmospheric, and even though that grass could I suppose have been anywhere, for me it encompasses that feeling of this Summer in Brussels.
I do feel that what I have made is just scratching at the surface of this place, and is limited by time, technique, and of course, my personal view upon the city. Of course to some people, this work may not really represent this place, as they see it, and even some parts can be seen as generic, as is often the case with time-lapse work in particular. It is not everyone’s Brussels. It is of course made up of what I saw, how I saw it, and it hurts to think of all those moments I couldn’t get, couldn’t record, or didn’t even see.
To you, Brussels, Brussel, Bruxelles