Apart from the objects, Leatitia Bica’s pictures also give us a glimpse of the designer behind the object, and this is typical of her work. The Brussels-based photographer always builds her pictures in close interaction with the protagonists, be it musicians, designers, filmmakers or artists. For her, photography is an ongoing process, an exchange. "Some designers have had to get used to the idea. I ask them to let themselves get carried away by their work and play with it." This provoked spontaneity causes a creative flow which results in amazing pictures. This impulse is key in the Belgitude series, as in the rest of Bica's work, and although lively, the images are also rather cool, which gives Bica’s work a certain tension. These pictures catch and keep the eye of the beholder.

The result is light-hearted, keen-witted and benign. "I like joy; nothing is so bad that you can’t have a good laugh about it. And that’s very Belgian.” This said, Laetitia Bica fits like a glove into the Belgitude exhibition, which brings together designers who share a typical Belgian je ne sais pas quoi. She fully recognizes herself in the title of the exhibition. "Being a Belgian implies that you don’t have a pronounced identity because the country is a mix of people with no one group being really dominant. This means our identity is really adept at merging with external influences," says the photographer who has a Sicilian mother, and whose father is a Belgian with a Portuguese name, while she herself grew up in the proud Walloon city of Liège before moving to the Belgian capital where over 170 different nationalities somehow live together. What has been Belgium since 1830, used to be part of a larger territory, divided into a number of smaller states, and quite often served as the battlefield of Europe. "Due to our history and resulting mixed identity, this small, multicultural and multilingual country is not much affected by the fear that in many big countries is gathering pace: the fear that national identity is being compromised or even lost due to foreign influences. The fact that our identity has always been blurred means that there is much more room to manoeuvre - to link and associate, to pick up novelties, to mix and reset, to play and enjoy, to exchange and share with others. In short, not having a fixed identity gives us a lot of freedom. The key is that we don’t have to conform to a certain style or genre to be considered 'Belgian'. Being Belgian is literally the mix itself." The resulting je ne sais pas quoi, she says, is what also unites all designers exhibiting at Belgitude .

TORNADO by Nicolas Bovesse & Keramis
She herself employs an open attitude to her work and she enjoys exchanging and working closely together with others. "Every picture I make, is made in cooperation with the people involved. In fact, I often ask to be actively involved and take part in the picture, I don’t just want to just show their product. I want them to get carried away by their work. It's a game, and you have to have the confidence to play it so that we can create a good image together." This way of working suggests she invests energy and time into trusting relationships, and apart from her obvious talent as a photographer she seems also to possess excellent social skills, because she produces fabulous, intimate yet clean pictures.

"I do nothing alone in my corner." Working together, sharing, stimulating and inspiring each other, trial and error without fear of the unknown – there are contemporary trends we think typical for the Millennial generation Y. "It's a bit hippie", Bica chuckles. In addition to all sorts of ‘makers’, Bica also works frequently with philosopher Jeffrey Tallane who provided the text of her book 'First' – a text about transgression and laughter. In this book, Laetitia Bica outed herself as a fan of the open Belgian identity in which absurd and surrealist joy are an important ingredient. "Never miss a chance to laugh, even at the worst things. Laugh because it is so bad. "Plus Belge tu meurs!" You can’t get more Belgian!

BEE by Xavier Lust & Charles Schaumburg by Nacarat
Whoever wants to see more of Laetitia Bica is very welcome at Palazzo Litta 4-9 April.

After that, she will be showing pictures of her art residency at the Villa Noailles in Hyeres, France at the MAAC in Brussels: Common Land (April 20 - May 13).

INNER LIGHT by Nathalie Dewez & Val Saint Lambert
WELCOME HOME by Jean-François d'Or & Maison Vervloet
Her book 'First' is published by Editions du Caïd

all images ©Laetitia Bica

ECHO by Laend (Chevalier Masson + Diane Steverlynck) & VALERIE_TRAAN
RONTGEN RACK by Jan & Randoald & Labt
UNTITLED by Muller Van Severen & Emaillerie Belge
TRIO by 'atelier lâchement ahanais' & Art Casting
MIST by Julien Renault & Kewlox