Westhoek, Scarred land.

Westhoek, the northern part of French Flanders, is a scarred land. Its singular geography has been fashioned by its rurality, its industrial past and the scars of wars.
[dropcap type=”1″]I[/dropcap]t also bears the marks of its ambivalences – as a part of France notwithstanding its Flemish tradition, but also as a place with mores revealing a strong attachment to the past and yet with a yearning for change, and it is also the seat of a blatant sociocultural rift.

From this sole background four projects have emerged, fragmenting and going their separate ways, but always keeping in mind the identity of this territory.

Whether through the prism of landscapes or through that of portraits, these projects aim at disclosing the identity of this part of France nowadays.

In the end, dialogue emerges from these four autonomous projects which thus gather strength to the point that they become complementary. The Westhoek project came as a way to work together for the four young photographers. The four of them being French living in Belgium, it was a interesting challenge to go to this region of mixed culture. In the context of the upcoming presidential election in France, and the migrant’s crisis strongly present in this region, it was an important time for them to discover this land, to meet the people living there, and therefore to give a vision of this poorly known area. When they talk about their experience there, they talk about meeting cheerful and welcoming people, in despite of the general humble background of the land they went through, people were strong and proud. When ask about the reception of the images, it’s clear for them that it’s a really subjective vision that they give. They all come from a documentary tradition but they are really conscious here of presenting their vision, the images are open enough to let the viewers make his own idea of the region, his own story.

About the authors:
« Scouting Around Westoek” is composed of four french young photographers ( Paul Hennebelle, Fabien Silvestre Suzor, Benjamin Sandri, Johan Poezevara) graduated from the Art school « le Septantecinq » in Brussels in 2016. For this one project they decided to work together on one territory the Westhoek, a part of the French Flanders in the north of France.

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