from nature to industry and back again
The title “Transit” refers both to the many evolutions -from nature to industry- that the landscape of the mining town of Genk (Belgium) has undergone since the introduction of the first Industrial Revolution, as well as to the name of the van which was manufactured in the Genk Ford factory between 1960 and 2000. The factory closed down in 2015, leaving more than 4,000 people unemployed and a polluted wasteland to be reconversed.
The “Transit” series depicts the evolution and history of the Genk landscape using the 19th-century anthotype process. It consists of 9 photographic prints made with an organic emulsion from plants and berries which were harvested from the location photographed. As an result, an interesting relationship between the physical landscape and its photographic representation emerges.
The anthotype print not only REPRESENTS the landscape, it IS the landscape since it is made from the flora that grows there. The long exposure time, the entropy, the tactility, the connection with nature, and the ability to incorporate what was photographed in the print, enable the anthotype to open up a number of layers of meaning that remain irrevocably closed to digital photography.
Because plants are more and more affected by environmental stresses, especially by the devastating consequences of pollution and climate change, the anthotype acts as a suitable tool to illustrate the narrative of the Anthropocene. The technique is also a means of raising awareness of it and of reacting against this. Further scientific research will have to show the exact level of concentrations of heavy metals that will nest within the final image. In other words, I use one of the oldest photographic methods as an appropriate instrument for addressing an urgent contemporary topic and to capture the history of a landscape in the picture itself.