I left on August 3, in the midst of a pandemic, for a road trip through the Flemish countryside. With an old Massey Ferguson and an animal cart turned into a mobile photo studio. In order to talk to people, take their portraits and try to find the mood of the country. I took every exit from the main road in a smell of 1970s diesel hump and grease from my double speed box. Just out of curiosity. Or maybe to fill that little hole in my heart mile by mile. For 53 hours the 4 cylinders of my Perkins diesel thumped and rattled. Thousands of times my flashing light has flickered and my crumbling saddle has bumped up and down on those terrible concrete tracks.
I have covered more than 400 kilometers, at 20 km/h. The road signs had never been so sweet to me. 20. Smiley. 21. Smiley. 20. Thumbs up. 21. Thumbs up. And so on and so on. Crisscrossing through that Flemish country, always looking straight to the east. For a month I drove, docked and talked, cursed and lamented myself, laughed and drank, sweated gallons and made portraits, soaked.
You could say: it was like a rosary of chance encounters between Abele and Zammelen, a slow road movie between the beach of Sint-André and the pear vines of Gingelom, between the last throes of the grain harvest in the west and the start of the fruit picking in the East. But it was just: the Flanders Blues.
Published in the Belgian newspaper De Morgen on 19 September 2020