I find it really hard to give short answers to questions

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What do you see when you envision the future of the Belgian creative scene? For us, we see diverse, unique perspectives, representative of the world around us. That is exactly why we have been working on our 20-something issues since 2014. These editions feature 20 people in their (pre-)twenties who are a guide, an inspiration or an Earlybird for the young generation of today in Belgium. It is the greatest honour to step into the minds of some of the most innovative young people in Belgium; and learn about their dreams, fears, inspirations and even their celebrity crushes. This year’s list was co-curated with Kevin Kotahunyi, founder of Please Add Color.

Emilia Chinwe Brys   

she/her, 23, visual artist, Amsterdam & Antwerp

What do we & our readers need to remember about you? 

I find it really hard to give short answers to questions.

What artists are you listening to?/What book are you currently reading?

I’m reading Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi and I’ve had Caprisongs by FKA Twigs on repeat for a few weeks now.  

How do you combine your work as a model and photographer? 

It comes quite naturally to me. I love the entire process of creating images so I enjoy both being in front and behind the lens.

I love the entire process of creating images

Tell me about your work at Z33’s exhibition Motherland. 

I showed a selection of my master project titled Afropea as it related to the theme of the exhibition. It was interesting to view my series in a different context and I was surprised by how well the works of all the artists interacted with each other.

What makes your heart go faster these days? 

The coming of spring and the thought of seeing nature in full bloom again.

What are you doing daily at 9 pm/9 am? 

That’s different almost every day but probably also worry about my sleep schedule.

What’s your personal utopia? 

I wanted to describe a very elaborate world but then I thought about the moments spent with my best friends and how we have created a space together in which we truly feel safe and loved. That is very utopic to me. 

What brings you satisfaction? 

Seeing my analogue pictures after they’ve been developed. 

How do you relax? 

A yoga teacher once told me to imagine my inner sun and that really stuck with me. Other than that I like to rollerskate and read. 

What’s one of your sources of inspiration that may surprise people?

Growing up I was interested in a lot of surrealist painters and I think that influenced me greatly. I also find a lot of inspiration in other people, more than they might realise.

I find a lot of inspiration in other people, more than they might realise

What would you like to be doing in 10 years’ time? 

Creating whatever I want with no restrictions. 

What is the latest/future project you are working on? 

I’m developing a series about intimacy.  

What will the second part of 2022 bring you? 

Hopefully, a lot of sun-soaked moments of happiness.

Who is the person that most influenced you throughout your development in life?

My mother mostly, I’d say my grandmother too. All the women in my life actually. 

What is the most important thing you’ve learned lately? 

That the things I dislike most about myself might actually also be the things I like the most and that if you surround yourself with loving people life doesn’t have to be heavy. 

Is there anyone in your scene who needs more attention?  

I think Loulou João is both an amazing artist and a friend that I’m always telling people about, so I’m going to do it here too. 

Comfort food/speciality dish? 

The texture of mushrooms is comforting to me. I’m also very fascinated by them. You should watch Fantastic Fungi

Celebrity crush?

Unsure but perhaps Mae Jemison. I’ve always wanted to meet someone who has travelled into space. 

Most irrational fear?/Most rational fear? 

Someone reviving my brain post mortem while it has been removed from my body. This is my irrational fear because the probability of it happening to me is very low. I acquired this fear by reading an article about the attempt to do this with animal brains so I’m also counting it as my rational one since it might become a possibility one day.  

If you were a cartoon character in a show, what would be your uniform?

I’d really like to dress up as a moth, regardless of what the show is about.  

What were you like as a child? 

Imaginative and very invested in the alternate realities I’d dream up. I think I’ve always been an intense daydreamer, so probably a bit inattentive as well.  

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 

I’d like to know how people are really feeling at all times and how to make them feel better if needed. 

What’s the one thing you can’t live without? 

I always have to keep my mind occupied by having something to read, so I couldn’t live without things to read.  

If there was a book about your life, what would the title be? 

Depends on how it ends. I always choose titles as the last step. 

Biggest red flag? 

Apathy is the first thing that comes to mind. 

Biggest dream? 

Accomplishing all of the little dreams I have. 

Favourite quote from a book/movie/show/song 

‘Graves grow no green that you can use. Remember green’s your colour. You are spring’ by Gwendolyn Brooks’ To the young who want to die


Photos shot by @mellunman and Emilia Chinwe  


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