Jan Rosseel - Belgian Autumn. A Confabulated History

In Events and Exhibitions / June 16, 2015

In the early 1980s, Belgium experienced a collective nightmare. A group known as the Brabant Killers committed a series of robberies, mainly of supermarkets, involving unprecedented violence. Thirty years later, Rosseel delves into the country’s memories of the events to create a confabulated history.

According to witness accounts, one of the assailants in Braine-l’Alleud wore a mask depicting French president François Mitterand © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.
According to witness accounts, one of the assailants in Braine-l’Alleud wore a mask depicting French president François Mitterand © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.
Piece of evidence found in the Brussels-Charleroi Canal © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.
Piece of evidence found in the Brussels-Charleroi Canal © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.

Belgian Autumn does not set out to reconstruct the facts. Rosseel combines evidence from police archives and photographs of key locations with fictional characters. He skims the surface of the “truth” and points to the impossibility of providing a credible account: by mimicking the official criminal investigation, this work acts as a scathing commentary or indictment of how the case was handled. No one was, and in all likelihood ever will be, convicted for the murders. Numerous procedural errors, lost or destroyed documents, alleged political involvement and cover-ups: the list of reprehensible aspects of the case goes on and on.

Rosseel uses witness testimonies and memories to approach the topic. Rosseel’s own father was one of the murder victims. Belgian Autumn is a subjective narrative that while it refreshes our memory also provides space for new memories and new stories.

Members of the Brussels police force © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.
Members of the Brussels police force © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.
In 1986, some bags filled with weapons were dredged out of the Brussels-Charleroi canal near Ronquières.
The weapons had been used by the Gang of Nivelles and were dumped in the canal in 1985, shortly after
their raid in Aalst. - Brussels-Charleroi Canal in Ronquières © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.
In 1986, some bags filled with weapons were dredged out of the Brussels-Charleroi canal near Ronquières. The weapons had been used by the Gang of Nivelles and were dumped in the canal in 1985, shortly after their raid in Aalst. - Brussels-Charleroi Canal in Ronquières © Jan Rosseel. Used here by kind permission from FoMu. All rights reserved.

Jan Rosseel (BE, 1979) studied photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (NL) and the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus (DK). The book Belgian Autumn. Belgische Herfst. published by Hannibal, is being launched to coincide with the exhibition. The book is available at the museum shop and costs 45 euros.

Curator: Rein Deslé

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