The story is gonna be a long one.Please bear with me.
As almost every thursday, for the past few months, I've participated in the Utata.org "Thursday Walk" project.This thursday I decided to pay the birth village of my late father and consequently, my grandparents, a visit.After roaming around on the few streets of this small village (which lies in the province of Antwerp, Belgium, and is called "Hingene") and having taken some shots, it started to rain.I went for a coffee in a brown pub and waited for the rain to end or at least diminish slightly.It got dryer again and I packed up my camerabag and decided to hit the streets again.I didn't have much hope of shooting anything decent any more and was in fact heading back to my mountainbike.Now the village has some quaint little (uninhabited, or so I thought ) houses that date back maybe 150 years and on one of these little houses the door was open and I saw two people, an elderly man and woman, doing things inside this house.The man noticed me from inside and I said hello and asked him what they where doing.I asked the man if he was from this village or was born here and mentioned that my late father was also from this village and the man had known my late father well.In fact, they had gone out (partying) together when they where both young men (somewhere in the mid-fifties I presume) So the man came to know that I was in fact the son of my father and we started talking.The man's younger brother, age 55, had just passed away and he and his girlfriend where busy clearing out the little house where the departed brother had lived all his life.He (the departed brother of 55) had, I found out, had once lived there with a woman ( she to had previously, a couple of years before, been found dead in the house) that was well known in our community for her weirdness and awkwardness ; the woman's name was "Zotte Betty" (translated as "Crazy Betty" ) and one of her sons.The son of Betty, the crazy woman, had lived with the brother till the day they found him dead.
At that point I had to just ask if I could take some photos of the inside.This had to be a one time opportunity.A once in a lifetime chance.I appologized several times if I was being impolite or intruding ( after all, this man's younger brother had just died ! ) but the man and his girlfriend saw no objections.So I stepped through the little door and was immediatly struck by the ackwardnes of the place.How in earth people could have lived in such circomstances was beyond me.It most resembled the home of some horder who never in his live decluttered !
I will save you a detailed description of the state the place was in ; look at the photos and let your mind do the work.
On the other hand, the house was full of memories of a man who must have lived the live of a recluse and now his things, his memories where about to be thrown away, to dissapear.
The more I photographed the interior, the wallpaper with this frail golden color, the odd trinkets and old objects, the more the man and his girlfriend became at their ease and they let me share their thoughts and insights in the life of their brother( in law).The woman even let me take a couple of shots where she was on inspite of her being very wary in the beginning.
I am deeply indebted to these people who have let me in in their personal lives whilst in the midst of a beriefment.
I express my gratitude.
These photos where taken with love.Be so kind as to threat them that way.
copyright Ange Soleil ( a.k.a Tweng) 2008