During my residency at Contretype, I am looking at the phenomenon of “Brusselisation”, as urbanists call the anarchic development of cities left to the whims of real estate developers. It was particularly glaring in the 1960s and 1970s, when Brussels was given over to visions of a “city of the future”. It is still in evidence today, it seems to me, especially with the development of European institutions. It is almost as though there were two Brussels: the city of the ordinary citizens who live there, and then the other, more artificial, often deserted city, that a certain technocratic élite passes through.
Urban blights such as the brutalist architecture and the business quarters I encounter in Brussels remind me of North America’s “no man’s lands” I know all too well. Going through them, I experience similar feelings of alienation and uprootedness. I also discover Brussels from a wholly different angle: inhabited and historic. I am then struck by the startling contrasts that dislocate the city. The body of photographic work I develop following my residency articulates these oppositions by underlining the brutal nature of this cohabitation. Using social statuary to point to a more human scale, I give new meaning to monuments from another era. These digitally rearranged spaces seem to commemorate the levelling of local memory. They also reference human tragedy and the struggle against oppression. Rehabilitated in this way within the urban fabric, they are now turned into gadflies and symbols of resistance.
8 medium and large format images. There works were created while artist-in-residence at L’Espace photographique Contretype (Brussels) in collaboration with VOX Image Centre (Montreal)