Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF)
In speaking about what's far, exotic and unknown lies what's close and familiar. vasculum turns to the central region of the province of Limburg in Flanders, Belgium. My own native land. During the twentieth century it was known for its coal mining. This video situates the land at a socio-economic turning point in history and at different levels of preservation, between appearing and disappearing, between the utopian and the dystopian.
Its narrative is an adaptation of travel reports from official Belgian botanical expeditions from Brussels and Liège coming to this area between 1865 and 1913. Linked with present day's images constantly framing and reframing the iconic coal mining slag heaps which dominate the region's landscape, the narrative thread speaks from the different characters that ever crossed this land in an attempt to appropriate it in many ways: explorers, imperialists, colonisers, scientists, artists, industrialists, immigrants, tourists. They speak from the position of authority, in a language easily associated with aristocracy and structures of power. Revealing a characterizing discourse, these methods of image making and storytelling facilitate a reinterpretation of history and a new understanding of the present. Just like then, this landscape and its cultures still find themselves in a fragile position now, as they are under threat again of exploitation, globalisation and reconversion.