2001-2015 PRESS REVIEW




“Belgians say Charleroi is the kind of place where a gang will use a rocket launcher when a pistol would do. Officers describe breaking off car chases when passengers lean out and open up with AK-47’s.”
“Francine Biot, police chief, has been pondering why the city has such a history of crime, she said. Unemployment is a big part of it. The city’s industrial base has decayed badly. […] Up to 40 percent of Belgium’s well-known armed robbery artists live in Charleroi, though they don’t all work here, she says.”

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“Once at the centre of Belgium’s “pays noir” coal and industry belt, Charleroi, is surrounded by a post-industrial landscape of slagheaps and derelict factories. It faces the latest global recession having never recovered from the last two.
The city in the Walloon, French-speaking region of southern Belgium is openly acknowledged by many of its inhabitants to be the most depressing place in Europe.

Menawhile, Charleroi’s solidly Left-wing council has become a byword for corruption, losing two Socialist mayors to various scandals in the last two years.”

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Once the vital centre of Belgium’s coal mining and steel industry and now nothing but closed stores, abandoned factories, and environmental devastation. One in four residents live on unemployment checks, nearly half the population never graduated from high school. Many are afflicted with work-related diseases. Half the town’s building stock is abandoned. This is what happens when an industrial city dies.

Charleroi’s average unemployment is at 26.6%, an enormous percentage, especially compared to Belgium’s average of under 10%. The inter-generational phenomena includes young and old: former miners, steel workers, office workers, children of immigrants. Recent psychological phenomena in the area, under study by psychologists and sociologists, is creating serious problems for young people, those with the most trouble finding work. For years after the mines closed entire families lived off unemployment payments made to the laid off men. This led to children growing up with their fathers and grandfathers at home, sometimes sick with silicosis, always having great difficulty in finding new employment in a post-industrial context where everything had so drastically changed. When the mines closed, the workers lost more than their jobs, they lost their position in society. They stayed unemployed, it being impossible to find another job, in particular because they had spent their entire working life underground. One could say they were invisible when they worked, and just as invisible afterwards.

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Hotel Charleroi is a research project initiated by Adrien Tirtiaux (BE), Antoine Turillon (FR) and Hannes Zebedin (AT) in 2009 through artist residencies and exhibitions in Charleroi. Located 60 km south from Brussels, Charleroi is a decaying industrial town with all associated symptoms – high unemployment rate, raising criminality, corruption affairs, etc. Its surrealistic urban landscape, reminiscences from an intense industrial past (slag heaps, steel factories) along with numerous irrational public infrastructures planned in the sixties (subway, ring road on viaduct), don’t fit at all with its relatively small scale (pop. 400 000). In fact, Charleroi offers a very condensed overview of how Modernity developed in Europe and which social and economical problems resulted from it. The city nearly didn’t change since 30 years, and this makes it a very interesting investigation field for us, as it leaves everything open for a new generation of artists to position itself on its modern -and postmodern- heritage.

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“Handgun, automatic weapons and rocket launcher used in Charlie Hebdo and Paris supermarket attacks purchased from Belgian gangs, police sources claim.
Most of the weapons used in Paris terrorist attacks that killed 17 people last week were bought from criminal gangs and arms dealers in Belgium, according to police sources.
The Scorpion machine gun and the Tokarev handgun used by Amedy Coulibaly during his attack on the kosher supermarket which resulted in the deaths of four Jewish Parisians came from Brussels and Charleroi.
The Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers used by the Kouachi brothers to attack the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, killing 12, were purchased by Coulibaly near the Gare du Midi in Brussels for less than €5,000 (£3,870)
[…] the shabby streets are well known as a marketplace in illegal arms.
Police and public prosecutors have not confirmed the Belgian link but an arms dealer, well known to the authorities, has been arrested in Charleroi, in the French speaking south of Belgium.”

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Brussels, capital of suicide and jihad, where Christianity is dying out to , replaced by a lighthearted nihilism invading Islam.

Belgium has set a new record in the recent past: in all of Europe, the country has the highest pro capita number of Islamic fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Brussels, the capital of the European Union, has become the capital of holy war. The first citizen from the Old Continent to die on the field of battle was Muriel Degauque, a Belgian Catholic girl from Charleroi, the capital of coal. A Charleroi suburb, Marcinelle, was the site of the disastrous August 1956 coal mine fire when more than one hundred Italian miners were killed.
Muriel converted to Islam, changed her name to Myriam and left Belgium where she had been born and raised. She died a suicide bomber near Baghdad on November 9, 2005.
They call it “Belgistan”, the sad evolution of a country in turmoil, its citizens bored and skeptical, a country never able to replace the ideals of a former Empire. And yet, talking to a Belgian you’re left with the impression of speaking to someone satisfied with their life. The social question? Under control. Family life? Decent. Distractions from daily toil? In abundance. Fear of war? No one thinks about it. This is Belgium’s lighthearted thoughtlessness, characteristic of a bourgeoisie taking comfort in a kind of fateful propitiation.
Belgium, as well has being home to a record number of jihadists, currently has the highest suicide rate in Europe. These are the flowers of evil. Suicide is the first cause of death for Belgians between 25 and 44 years old […]. Youth beautiful but diseased. Young Belgians, according the newspaper Libre Belgique, “suffer life”.
A study by the academics Moens, Haenen and Van de Voorde, based on information from the World Health Organization, puts the increase in youth suicides at 81% higher than ten years ago.

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