Photography – Qua’d neuf?

Technique: Photo Reportage

Size: 40x60x3cm

Print: Epson Colour inkjet Print/Matte

Mounting: Oppl.2mm Polystyrene

Framed: with Depth and Museum glass

Date:  April till July 2013


Dit is géén journalistiek werk, géén kunstfotografie, géén reportage, of studio werk out in the open, maar het is, dit-alles-bij-elkaar, onder de titel ‘Qua’d Neuf?’ Frans voor het Engelse What’s new. Een term die iedereen op het eiland Madagascar dagelijks uitspreekt. Een land waar alle hulpbanen van buiten af zwaar verstoord zijn sinds de staatsgreep in 2009 en ook, niet te vergeten, jaarlijks te kampen heeft met zware cyclonen. Een postieve toekomst hangt in een ‘blinde’ wolk, komend van groot landbezitters en uitbuiters van buitenaf, die gretig gebruik maken van de machteloosheid en al het moois wat de natuur daar nog te bieden heeft.In dit werk heb ik geprobeerd dat weer te geven dat op mijn pad kwam en het beeld extra te onderbouwen door gebruik te maken van double exposure in dit werk. 

Het vier na grootste eiland in de wereld na Groenland, Nieuw-Guinea en Borneo. Een eiland 14 keer zo groot als Nederland. Een eiland waarvan meer dan 42% van de bevolking 15 jaar of jonger is. Een eiland waar de mensen ‘vechten’ om te overleven en eigenlijk na haar bevrijding van kolonistatie (1960) van de Fransen, geheel aan haar eigen lot is overgelaten.

Door de geisoleerde ligging en het feit dat dit eiland bijna nooit in het nieuws komt, maakt het voor mij als kunstenaar interessant. Want, achter deze unieke flora en fauna schuilt een verborgen werkelijkheid die in deze foto serie naar buiten word gebracht door middel van de double exposure techniek. Na mijn eerste bezoek in 2001 besloot ik voor de 2de keer na twaalf jaar opnieuw een reis te maken naar Madagascar en nu in 2013. Het leek mij interessant om te kijken naar de huidige veranderingen na 12 jaar. Het was een questie van Nu of nooit. In deze serie word je geconfronteerd met het dagelijks leven van de Malagasy. De werkelijkheid gezien vanuit een westerling met de technieken van nu. Met bestaand beeld nieuw beeld tonen door twee foto’s te schieten op 1 digitaal negatief. Hiermee heb ik de mensen die ik daar heb ontmoet een kans gegeven om te laten zien hoe het is om daar te leven, en wat er werkelijk speelt op dit eiland verscholen in de Indische oceaan en zeer bekend bij natuurliefhebbers.


These photographs show what is happening in todays Madagascar. An island known for its gorgeous rainforests, extraordinary tropical birds, lemurs and the famous baobab trees. But, behind al this beauty lays another world. In these photography series, I’ve tried to put the focus on the subjects that are happening in today’s Madagascar. Prostitution, corruption, the drop down numbers in tourism, unemployment, and above all: The lack of trust by foreign aid organizations witch is a direct result of their troubled political status. Qua’d Neuf? French for ‘what’s new’, or better; ‘what’s up’ is a question daily asked by its inhabitants, and a question that is in need of an answer. I have asked myself that question by showing people in their natural habitat, living their daily routines on an island east of the continent Africa and the fourth biggest island on our planet after Greenland, New Guinea and Borneo. A country of witch almost 42% of the population younger then 15 and fights a battle against the each year returning cyclones and current climate change problems. It has been struggling ever since it has been ‘set free’ from colonization by the French in the year 1960. After the coup in 2009 the drop down numbers in tourism where starting to show it’s side effects. This under developed country became even more in need of the right guidance and help from foreign aid organizations. But because of growing corruption and their current troubled political status, several help lines have stopped supporting. The future of this island is uncertain and lies mainly in the hands of huge foreign trade companies who are focused for instance on Madagascar’s half of the world’s supply of sapphires, which were discovered near Ilakaka in the late 1990s.

Political History

Formerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896 but regained independence in 1960. During 1992-93, free presidential and National Assembly elections were held, ending 17 years of single-party rule. In 1997, in the second presidential race, Didier Ratsiraka, the leader during the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the followers of Didier  Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana, nearly causing secession of half of the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced Ravalomanana the winner.

Ravalomanana  achieved a second term following a landslide victory in the generally free and fair presidential elections of 2006. In early 2009, protests over increasing restrictions on opposition press and activities resulted in Ravalomanana handing over power to the military, which then conferred the presidency on the mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, in what amounted to a coup d’état. Numerous attempts have been made by regional and international organizations to resolve the subsequent political gridlock by forming a power-sharing government. Madagascar’s independent electoral commission and the UN originally planned to hold a presidential election in early May 2013, but postponed the election until late July 2013, due to logistical delays. The new election date is now said to be taken place this coming August 2013. Update Jan.2014 newly elected president Hery Rajaonarimampianina.

Qua’d neuf? 


Living in the home of his Great great grandparents, this house build in 1905, is a left over from the colonial times. As it’s slowly falling apart you might consider restoration. But in a country that poor, that’s not of any importance. As you have the feeling stepping back into another century. This man is more occupied on finding work being a carpenter himself. Seen from a touristic point of view; a tourist does not often get the chance to enter a home like this. And for that reason, showing people around would mean work for sure. But unfortunately for him, tourists and proper guidelines are missing.


Surrounded by all this hand made furniture, family photos on the walls, and even handcrafted wood work that is neatly placed on the sidewalls a family relative who lives in this colonial house takes a 5 minute break. Time is standing still, and for some reason it feels like the dead are still around.


Curtains from another époque, a stare at himself in the mirror and a look into the front garden. Outside it starts to rain.  Water has already made her entrance into this home. He’s aware of the fact that one of these days the ceiling will come down but the lack of money prevents him from solving this problem.


Working at a beach resort these days means, apart from when there are any visitors, spending a lot of time on the Internet. Island visitors are best known for quick visits, and short friendships. The only way to keep a friendship going is by using the social network. As this is often the only way, to feel close to a friend, who lives in another country. Or as the Malagasy put it: L’exterieur.


Taking the side road


When the rice crops are finished, the soil is used to make bricks, which are sold locally. This means that the rice fields become lower and lower each year until eventually unusable subsoil is reached and they have to move on to new areas as the subsoil is of no use for growing crops or brick making. The result is that large swathes of land become waste ground.


The burial tomb, a prominent part of the island landscape in all regions, is the primary link between the living and the dead among the Malagasy. It is built with great care and expense, reflecting the privileged position of the dead, and is often more costly and substantial than the houses of the living. The land upon which a family tomb is situated: tanindrazana (land of the ancestors) is inalienable, and social and economic practices are designed to guarantee that tomb lands are kept within the family.


 To find one of the main played sports and the place to be for meeting new friends is at the many football fields that can be found anywhere where there is a flat piece of land.


The outskirts of the capital Antananarivo may look peaceful at first, but robbery and burglary are as common here as they are in the big city. Most households have guards or in this case dogs to keep the private terrain free from visitors who are not wanted.



As in many third world countries, Madagascar also has a high amount of working girls. ‘Single’ male tourists visitors are their biggest clients. These prostitutes are in fact hoping for a relationship that could eventually provide them of a visa. A visa that hopefully will take them out of their financial misery. The only way to get a visa is to marry someone who lives abroad. Although this does happen, most of the time it often results in long distance relationships in which the wife is still living in Madagascar and takes care of their new born child. While the husband continues living his life, in another country, abroad.


49 Replies to “Photography – Qua’d neuf?”

  1. Note: In these images, I sometimes have to create a setting. In image No.1 for instance, I have ‘shut down’ the light in this room and added the extra lightbulbs that I carry around with me. One light in the kithen, the light coming from behind the curtain on the left side, and one light that my subject is holding in his hands… It’s set dressing in a way. But on the other hand, it sometimes all happens in front of me. Like for instance in the images number 7 and 8.


    1. You’ve provided a fascinating journey, and your description of your process adds to the experience. Thank you!


    1. Richard, thank you for giving your opinion, as this work really means a lot to me. I’ve also added this post to Verve photo ( maybe you’ve heard of it?) and people are also responding there. Happy you used the word ‘brilliant’ 😉 Have a great weekend


  2. There is really some fascinating thing in theses images…as some of ghostly … between the present and the past..disturbing…perturbing…heady…!!! brava..


  3. This is raising awareness of the plight of a people of the highest order. I commend what you are doing very strongly. Perhaps through this work some monetary interest will flow into the place again and the island could become a viable tourist destination again. You mentioned this is published in Verve. Are you also planning an art exhibition?


    1. Christophe, Looking into this light and thinking about How to ‘play ‘ with it, is needed in this country. Thanks for your comment


    1. In this case I think, with this kind of photography work, I try to bring some awareness of what is going on elsewhere, by using my artistic skills. This might or could change the mind setting of a viewer, or a person who is willing to help in the so many subjects in witch change is needed in this country. It, in this case, starts by You asking me this question!
      Change is a six-letter word but needs so many words to excually come alive or in action.
      It all comes down to how much a person cares for another person,
      and if he/she is open for finding solutions to a problem for then, change can come.
      Also…How important Nature is in your life and if you want to protect it from being hurt even more, and do something about it.
      I personally do not have an answer to your question; “I wonder what is needed to create change?” For that, this question needs to be more specific. There are many subjects in this country that are in great need of change. To only name a few: Politics, Prostitution, Education, Healthcare, Water issues, good Hospitals, The slash and burn problem, Recycle projects, Illegal logging, Forest protection, The Foreign trade and so on.
      I’m doing my part by showing these photography series, that hopefully brings some awareness and attention.

      One thing is sure. Change starts by looking at how you yourself can personally contribute to make and have a better life by knowing that you are responsible for every step you make along the way. Because everything is connected. Everything. This being aware can start for instance at the beginning of the day, when you have your morning coffee, and suddenly say to yourself:
      ‘Hey! Where does this coffee come from that I’m drinking?’ Or ‘Can I recycle the package material?’, and, ‘Has it been manufactured under good working conditions? And is it a bio product or mass production that adds flavours and chemicals, and is part of a ‘dirty’ trade?!

      We are all part of this big circle of life.
      Change comes from within…
      Bente, Thank you for your comment, compliment and question.
      I appreciate it.
      Kind regards


  4. Belinda, all your works cheers me up and inspire me (even if there is a great sensitive, moving and meaningful story behind). But this makes it particularly and precious, to tell your story thru the photos… …so tangible

    I like your 3D’s as well. Your full of fantasy and drive to realize your projects. Please continue !!!


      1. I appreciate the love you give for your fellow human being and I can imagine that your work is sometimes pretty exhausting. So may your artistic skills provide you a balance due to this hard work.

        ohw, your work is so inspiring. – Me and some russian friends take through some projects which provides help for russian orphanages and hospitals at the country side. The interaction with the kids, the doctors and my friends is fulfilling… …but as well it gives you some hard times and setbacks. So, your work encourage me to find a balance by maybe doing capturing all that on fotos.. ..I mean, I love to take shots… ..but I never thought that this could help me to find more balance and new energy. – Thanx for that !!! Wish you the best for your projects! …and lots of love, joy and success for all those who are involved.


  5. Belinda, it seems we are both looking at each other’s work at the same time, which makes me smile.

    For me, this work cries out for really big prints. It has a cinematic quality which needs to be seen on a big screen.

    I was in England last winter and recall watching one of the first trips made by David Attenborough to Madagascar. He made a second documentary some years later. The scale of de-forestation virtually brought him to tears. When it’s gone, it is gone. His story was about a monkey. One of it’s former hunters was now it’s protector – a visual metaphor. He questioned where on earth we were heading and why we were hooked on the same type of development all around the world. r


    1. Oh, Dank je Geert! Het is het werk waar ik op het moment mee bezig ben, en hoop met het op deze manier van foto techniek gebruik te maken de serie verder uit te breiden in de toekomst.


  6. Very good writing. The message is conveyed clearly.
    I love the double exposures, they are really strong.
    Thank you Belinda.


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