Photographer Bart Ramakers creates Corona scene with Herr Seele in Hotel du Parc Ostend

Hotel du Parc has been a fixed value in Ostend social life for almost a hundred years, authentic and unchanged. In these surrealistic corona times, this monument also had to close its doors… that is, until Bart Ramakers opened them this week to settle down with his team for a highly original photographic scene around Herr Seele.

Bart Ramakers: “I am a historian, so as soon as I set foot in the brasserie of Hotel du Parc for the first time eighteen months ago, I was sold. Manager Danny Vandekerckhove was also immediately enthusiast about a collaboration, but because the Brasserie is open seven days a week, it was difficult to plan. There is a lot to consider in my productions, often there are a dozen models present who have to be cut, dressed and made up, which is not evident if the kitchen and bar have to keep running in the meantime. The theme of the shoot was also constantly changing in my mind. All those problems were solved in one go by the new corona closure of the hospitality industry. Not only did I suddenly have full access to the brasserie, I also immediately knew what the scene had to be about: about how the hospitality industry and artists are being checkmated during this crisis. At the same time, a new problem arose: you cannot just have ten models and a number of collaborators work together on the photo set at the same time, that is asking for problems. ”

Bart Ramakers in action.

Katia Belloy, Mrs. Herr Seele: “We met Bart and Sofie during a charity photo shoot with Johny Voners, just before the lockdown. Since then, we have met regularly in Ostend, and there was a click from the start. When Bart suggested creating a scene together, we were immediately enthusiast. Peter still had mussel pots from an Ostend Restaurant, a friend brought a chess set and immediately we had all the elements to recreate Marcel Duchamp’s chess game with Eve Babitz with Marcel Broodthaers’ mussel pots in the background, a true homage to surreal art, in a beautiful setting. ”

Herr Seele: “It cannot be a coincidence that the very first Cowboy Henks originated at this location, exactly where Bart’s camera was set up. Kama and I always write our scenarios in a café somewhere, and Hotel du Parc was a great place for us at the time, as many ex-colonials and other colorful figures passed by. Just this week I drew a Cowboy Henk poster to support the hospitality industry (“Don’t let the hospitality industry fall”), so I am glad that with this work by Bart we are once again highlighting the dire situation of many hospitality people and artists.”

Bart Ramakers: “It was anything but easy to make this scene. Normally I work as a stage director: the entire group of actors is brought together to record the scene in one go. Now I had no choice but to photograph all the characters bubble by bubble separately. It was the turn of the nude model Dovile at the chessboard first. Then came background figures and art connoisseurs Jean-Paul Robyns and his wife Michèle, each seated behind a mussel pot. After they left, we took pictures of Katia and Herr Seele, then Jacques Lanoye and Marie-Christine, finally Rosette Porta. Of course it was very important that the camera and the lighting were set up and adjusted in the same way during all those shots. Then I brought all those elements together on the computer into one photo. And strangely enough, this atypical way of working contributes to the surreal atmosphere in the end result! ”