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The Chicory Wall - Witloof (Belgium)


Alban Biaussat

Introduced in the early 1920s and formally established in 1962-63, the linguistic border determines the administrative language and, since 1970, the limits of the new federal entities in Belgium. As a result of historical events and successive foreign occupations, this pseudo-border was born of a political compromise between the two main linguistic communities in the country: the French-speaking and the Dutch-speaking one. In several areas throughout the country, chiefly around Brussels, rivalries persist due to identity and economical issues.This photographic project is intended to represent the territory’s division through an indispensable degree of derision, which hopes to help underline the recurrent issues of contention, as well as the myths of understanding that prevail on each side of the internal frontier, which some have called the “Chicory Wall”. Images of this vegetable, which was accidentally invented during the Belgian Revolution in 1830, have been projected all over the landscape. This visual installation is, therefore, a nod to the surrealist dimension in the current separation process within the country. Surrealism, present in art, humour and politics, has become Belgium’s strong brand identity. This project has received expert advice and friendly support from Stéphane Rillaerts, author of several essays on the linguistic borders in Belgium.


 

Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396138

Mouscron (Moeskroen), a French-speaking municipality originally located in Flanders, has been part of the Walloon area since 1963. This commune has always tried to avoid conflict between communities by providing linguistic facilities to the Dutch-speaking minority.

Mouscron, Belgium - 24/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396167

House in Wemmel, a Flemish municipality in the West of Brussels.

Wemmel, Belgium - 09/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396094

Hoegaarden is a traditional Flemish town located just north of the linguistic line. The town has given its name to a white beer known throughout the world.

Hoegaarden, Flanders, Belgium - 14/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396143

Sint-Genesius-Rode train station, a municipality with language facilities near Brussels. Its lifestyle and the nearby forest have attracted numerous personalities who live here. The community conflict is ongoing and passengers have to have two separate rail cards to commute to Brussels due to a lack of collaboration between the Flemish administrations and that of Brussels-Capital Region.

Sint-Genesius-Rode / Rhode Saint Genèse, Flanders, Belgium - 28/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396063

Railway bridge that runs through a disused park in Enghien, a town that has managed to develop its bilingualism and keep the community peace.

Enghien, Flanders, Belgium - 21/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396061

Temporary mortuary in Dworp (Tourneppe), a Flemish municipality in the South of Brussels.

Dworp (Tourneppe), Belgium - 20/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396064

Forest near Eupen, capital of the German-speaking community. Although German is the official administrative language (with falsities for the francophones) it is part of the Walloon region. It has often been considered to become an independent region.

Eupen, Belgium - 15/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396105

In Kraainem, under the A3/E40 motorway. A Flemish municipality with language facilities in the East of Brussels. It became mainly francophone in the 1940s.

Kraainem, Flanders, Belgium - 13/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396088

Herstappe is the smallest village in Belgium. Around 80 families who are traditionally francophone live here in a quiet and bucolic atmosphere. However, they are becoming increasingly Flemish. The village's policeman and the postwoman are both bilingual and come from the biggest neighboring village (Tongeren). Their offices are on the first and ground floor of this building.

Herstappe, Flanders, Belgium - 04/07/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396100

Kelmis / La Calamine. This village was the scene of fierce competition between European regional powers at the beginning of the 19th century, who wished to control the metal mines. To avoid conflict, they agreed to turn this village into an independent mini neutral zone at the crossroads of Belgium, Holland and Germany until 1919. It was finally merged into Belgium and is currently on the border between francophone and germanophone communities in the heart of the Walloon region.

Kelmis / La Calamine, Flanders, Belgium - 15/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396125

War memorial on Linkebeek's central square. Among many other myths fueling community resentment, there is that of the Flemish soldiers having to obey orders they were unable to understand, condemning them to suffer the consequences in battle. However, although higher officials came from aristocratic and middle-class French-speaking families who despised local Flemish dialects, field officials spoke perfectly well the language of the people. This 1920 invention shows the Flemish population's need for social revenge.

Linkebeek, Belgium - 19/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396145

A view of Walshoutem, a small francophone village that became part of Flanders during negociations in 1963. Despite the presence of a French-speaking minority, the village did not obtain linguistic facilities during negociation.

Walshoutem, Flanders, Belgium - 02/07/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396168

Fields and a house on the edge of Wezembeek-Oppem, one of six municipalities with language facilities in the Flemish territory around Brussels.

Wezembeek-Oppem, Flanders, Belgium - 13/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396130

Mont-de-l'Enclus (Kluisbergen). This very popular path marks the boundary between Flanders (on the left) and the Walloon area (on the right). It leads to an open space with shops and restaurants for tourists on each side of the border.

Mont de l'Enclus, Belgium - 08/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396119

Café du Lac in La Hulpe (Terhulpen). The linguistic border crosses the lake. The pedestrian promenade that circles the lake has many signs indicating the change of region.

La Hulpe, Belgium - 25/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396048

This old windmill in Corswaren, a French-speaking village, is owned by the village mayor and has been transformed into rental housing.

Corswaren, Belgium - 14/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396144

Fields at dusk in Russeignies, a francophone village near the linguistic border. Solving the Belgian identity and community crisis is sometimes similar to looking for a needle in a haystack.

Russeignies, Flanders, Belgium - 08/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396086

Electric tour marked with a political graffiti "Walloon forons" in Sint-Pieters-Voeren. Known as the place where community tension peaked in the 1980s. Since, many Dutch-speaking families have settled here, especially families coming from Holland and looking for cheeper housing and tax exile. Dutch majority is reached again since 2000.

Sint-Pieters-Voeren, Belgium - 17/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396087

Former Indonesian restaurant in Hamme-Mille, near Beauchevain, owned by a Belgian married to an Indonesian woman. They have both recently retired after spending twenty years serving oriental dishes in this quiet village.

Hamme-Mille, Flanders, Belgium - 22/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396089

Old house on the central square in Hoegaarden.

Hoegaarden, Flanders, Belgium - 27/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396054

Drogenbos is one of six Flemish municipalities with linguistic facilities for the French-speaking on the outskirts of Brussels. More popular than its neighbouring towns, it has attracted many inhabitants of Brussels since the 1970s and has therefore undergone a process of gentrification. These old proletarian houses are on a street that follows the linguistic borderlines.

Drogenbos, Belgium - 09/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396084

House next to the border between Belgium and Holland, in Moelingen (Monland).This French-speaking area is part of Flanders since 1963. It was traded against Cosmines, attributed to the Walloon area.

Moelingen, Belgium - 16/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396050

Pastures near Deux Acren (Twee Acren) in the Walloon area, not far from the linguistic border. This municipality was attached to Lessines (Lessen) in 1977.

Deux Acren, Belgium - 06/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396062

Enghien (Edingen) is a Walloon border municipality. Its bilingualism is due to economic ties forged between the Walloon shop-keepers and the French and Dutch inhabitants of the area.

Enghien, Flanders, Belgium - 21/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396043

Flemish school "De Taalkoffer" in Comines (Komen). Comines is a French-speaking municipality in West Belgium, which has been part of the Walloon area since 1963. In 1980, in the absence of enough Flemish families in the area, the commune refuses to finance the school. It is finally open under the condition that the project is entirely financed by the Flemish region.

Comines, Belgium - 24/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396113

Typical Flemish farm, not far from the linguistic border. When I asked for permission to take photos, the owner told me, slightly annoyed, that I could have spoken to him in Dutch. Realizing that I was French, he was much more indulgent and decided to offer me a few beers and help during the shooting.

Opbrakel / Flobecq-la-Houppe, Belgium - 23/04/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396217

The intersection between the road R0 and the motorway A4/E411 in Zonienwoud. In response to the threat of officially separating the country, the French community would like the wood to become a link between the Walloon region and Brussels to guarantee a territorial continuity. The Dutch, however, are afraid that such a continuity would only further weaken the Dutch presence in the capital.

Zonienwoud, Belgium - 17/05/2011

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Alban Biaussat / Picturetank BIA0396142

Bar on the National 3, between Crisnée and Heers. "Ia have an exceptional request" I asked one of the prostitutes, hoping to project the image of an endive on the front wall. "I've heard just about everything", she said. "I have no doubt about that, but in what language" I forgot to ask.

Crisnéé-Heers, Flanders, Belgium - 04/07/2011

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