Once upon a time
series of 56 pictures
I grew up in a time of material progress. For my parents, having a good life meant being able to buy a color tv, a small car and going on holidays with the family abroad. All these things were produced to make us happy. But we never really talked about what it means to have a fulfilling life.
Cities like Liège and Charleroi in Belgium, and places in North Rhine-Westphalia - the German land of coal and steel - were once important industrial centers in steel making, mining and gunsmithing. The backbone of the era of mass consumption in which I grew up.
This has become the land of the people who have no longer trust in their politicians, the institutions and even the daily news. These are the people who feel they have lost, and now support nationalist and authoritarian leaders. They live surrounded by the relics of a surreal post-industrial world, and try to make the best out of it.
Photographs from this series were published in Dodho Magazine (august 2016) and exposed at Centre Ceramique Maastricht (10 sept – 15 oktober 2017) and in the Dutch Photomuseum Rotterdam (10 - 13 may 2018).
I Believe | The World in a Suburb is an interactive multimedia documentary in English, French and Dutch about Bressoux, a suburb of Liege in Belgium.
I wanted to make this documentary because as humans, we all hold judgements about people who we’ve never met. We read about migrants and refugees, nationslist and alt-right extremists in the media, and we hear what experts and politicians have to say about the polarization in our society.
But we seldom ask inhabitants how they experience their life in Europe. And we don’t stop in the street to talk with them about topics like migration, racism, nationalism, integration, radicalism or the position of migrant women.
Bressoux is an experiment in living together in diversity. And I can’t say it has transformed into an ideal society, on the contrary.
But with the changes we’re facing in Europe, it’s worthwhile to examine places like Bressoux and what we can learn from them.
Working in Bressoux was also for me a continuos confrontation with my own beliefs, my own prejudgements and my own ignorance.
My most important lesson learned is that the world is much more complex than we tend to imagine. And that there are important stories that we don’t get to hear.
In this documentary you’ll meet wise and friendly people. No matter where they come from, or how they were educated, each of them has something to say that’s valuable for you and me to better understand the complex world we live in.