Charleroi, La Ville Noire (The Black City), a small town close to Bruxelles, symbolizes by itself the whole of Europe. The collapse of the industrial manufacturing, the rising unemployment, the increasing immigration, the outbreak of micro-criminality. The regression of the social welfare, the lack of a shared identity. This feature is a journey to the roots of my family, which moved from Italy to the district of Charleroi in 1956 to work in the steel industry.
Two generations have already succeeded in the promised land and, in the meantime, everything has changed. At this crossroad many populations united under the same roof of working opportunities were left without anything to share, as work vanished. Today social unease combines with the lives of the citizens. The roads, once blooming and neat, appear today desolated and abandoned, industries are closing down and spontaneous vegetation eats the old industrial districts. The same thing in a broader scale is happening in Europe.
This project invites people to gaze into the very heart of Europe, unlike most stories of this genre which tend to be focused on the margins of Europe. Does it make any sense to stay together when the initial mission has almost failed? Will it be possible to have another chance? This is the question for Europe, this is the question for the dark heart of Europe. I'm a son of this culture I investigated, and what pushed me to tell this story was an investigation on my own identity. My family moved from Italy to the district of Charleroi in 1956 to work in the coal industry. Half of my family still lives there, which is why I was granted such privileged and immediate access into the world I have captured in my photographs.
The idea of the project was born a few years ago. My desire was to tell through this vicinity, through this relationship with these places and people, this irritating, thorny theme. Our story is tied up with the European Community, with the political and social arguments that the introduction of the Union implied in our lives, dreams and ambitions.