Facebook photo from Melek Ali, "2 Angels"
Every year around 20,000 European workers travel to Belgium to help with the harvest in the agricultural fields. They work 65 long days for a fixed salary. Amongst people of various nationality and background living side by side on farms, exchange beyond work is limited to non-existing, neither the possibility to go "out".
Unlike the mainstream debate on labour conditions and rights, Seasonal Neighbours aims to explore interpersonal and psychological aspect of this temporary cohabitation, through means of visual arts, conversations and writing.
The project is initiated by Ciel Grommen who worked side by side with seasonal workers and joined one group to Bulgaria in the summer of 2017.
Research project initiated with the support of Vlaanderen (kunst en erfgoed) and RAVI Liège.
The Mobile Unit
a Public House for a Private Time
During picking season, seasonal workers meet weekly on one specific spot at one specific time: around 5pm at the local discount supermarket. This place was celebrated during the summer of 2018! In Borgloon —the heart of the Belgian fruit region with the highest concentration of seasonal workers (1/5th of the population)— a mobile unit will be built. It is a house designed by Maximiliaan Royakkers and Ciel Grommen as a public space for a private time.
From Friday 27th of July until Sunday 30th of September, the house was the centre for everyday coffee meetings, BBQ’s, movie screenings and music. At the same time, the installation served as a living archive, documenting ‘stories from the field’ and hosting panel discussions curated in collaboration with Dieter Leyssen.
A collaboration of vzw Heisa! and Jeugdhuis ‘t Biejke, with the support of Advokatenkantoor Orij, Boerenbond, stad Borgloon, z33 and Flacc.