“Ceci nest pas un photobook sur la Belgique – neither Bressonian nor Kerteszique. It’s a story of true grit – in the spirit of Magritte. All B/W pictures capture the era between 2001-2008, last shots of a world losing its passion and its stability under the uprising crisis. Wandering retrostalgia from a struggling present: places and faces one step before vanishing. Snapshots of grey in a United Europe collapsing within a facade democratique and a leitmotiv full of Tati melancholy. A truly obscure optimism, an open-hearted gaze to life from the photographer David Nollet, before the carnival is over.”
Andreas Raptis (film critic, art journalist, punk philosopher (10/05/2016)
“The photographs were made before the 2008 crisis, they are its cure. We meet Pier Paolo Pasolini who reminds anyone who will listen that « Isn’t it for Happiness that Revolutions are made ? ». Of course they are ! This is this kind of revolution that David talks about in his book, the need to fight against the consumerism that isolates people more than it gathers. Not the Revolution, but these daily actions, these touches of humanity that we all carry in us and whose it is our duty to reveal to others. The photographs are superb, imbued with humanism and the printing perfectly gives justice to the quality of black and white photographs (tri-X still remains brilliant).”
“Ce noir et blanc exposé au 50 mm donne dès lors des images d’aujourd’hui marquées en coin de jadis. Impression étrange d’une perte de repères et ce, autant plus que le contenu vogue aussi sur le passé. Comme ce vieux rafiot relégué en zone industrielle. Comme tous ces gens le plus souvent pêchés en marge d’événements folkloriques.”
Jean-Marc Bodson in La Libre Culture 18/05/2016
“Over schijn en wezen gaat het, over de illusie van de vrije markt en de tijdelijke bevrijding van het carnaval, over roes en gewoonte, over rondjes draaien in een mallemolen tot je murw genoeg bent om de status quo als je ideale biotoop te omarmen. Maar Nollet brengt evengoed laat licht in beeld, lelijke warmte en de doffe glans in de ogen van een meisje op de kermis. Zie ons doen, lijkt hij te zeggen. Zie ons kijken naar een wereld die kantelt – van *Danscafé De Mustang – Peter Van Peteghem – Simply the best* tot het autosalon en de feestvierders in Binche. We staan op straat. Allemaal. Onherroepelijk. Ooit.”
Eric Min in Staalkaart 05/09/2016
“Son travail photographique est une ballade entre surréalisme et l’esprit de Magritte ; le tout à la sauce belge. Bref, un travail et un livre à découvrir absolument !!!”
Laurent de Hemptinne (Hors Format) 06/09/2016
Dit boek is een gedicht in foto’s gemaakt in België voor de financiële, politieke en sociale crisis uitbrak in 2008. Zwart-witfoto’s waarop je ziet hoe de wereld veranderde de afgelopen jaren. De straatcultuur zoals je die ziet op de foto’s van bijvoorbeeld Robert Frank is niet meer. De mensen lijken meer in zichzelf gekeerd, tonen minder belangstelling. Maar met deze foto’s toont Nollet dat er toch sympathie en liefde kan blijven in onze samenleving.
Joke Embrechts (Beeldexpress november 2016)
- 225×315 mm
- 16 mm
- 700 g
- 104 p
- Arctic Volume (150 g) & Munken Pure Rough (170 g)
- linen cover
- stochastic printing (Staccato 10 TM) on the presses of Jan Verhoeven (Sint-Pieters-Leeuw, Belgium)
- design: Kaat Flamey
- isbn: 9789082399202
Matej Sitar’s video
How lucky I am that you accepted the assignment to do my book. I knew you would understand the work, that you would understand me. You understood it all when – in the pub in Ostend where we used to meet – we discussed our culture, our roots. Many times we have discussed how the world of our common ancestors has radically changed over just one generation. Their rural, Catholic and also closed world has completely disappeared. Our grandmother is now left alone in her village along the river Lys, as a strange but irrefutable proof of that forgotten world. A new world has emerged around her. It has opened up and it offers her descendants unprecedented freedom, comfort and security. But can we say that this world also brought us more happiness?
In that respect, you understood the link between our family’s fate and the Pasolini texts (Scritti Corsari) that I brought you. Pier Paolo Pasolini warned us forty years ago about the totalitarian character of the consumerist economy that is driving our new world. According to him, the horrors of 20th century war and fascism “have not been able even to scratch the soul of the people”. But “the new fascism of consumerism” – with its pervasive means of communication that are shaping the face of our culture – has “torn and brokenly uglified our souls forever”. Pasolini regretted the disappearance of the world of our ancestors (smallholder farmers and sub-proletarians) simply because that world “still possessed the ability to express, in those who lived it, real happiness”. Today, real happiness would be lost. Frustration and neurotic desire would be our collective moods. And indeed, such was the mood of the days when I made these photographs. They were never-ending days of carnival, slightly marred by feelings of loss and longing. The question about the new world’s happiness is raised in each image of the work.
The “façade démocratique” photograph is the oldest picture in the book. It was made in November 2001 in Brussels. Squatters were occupying the Brussels-Luxembourg railway station and had put this slogan on the façade of the building, right in front of the European Parliament. Eurocrats could read the dancing letters from their offices. The façade became a kind of mirror for those who believe that democratic institutions should serve the free market (rather than the other way round), even at the cost of the people’s happiness. Of course, the letters were quickly removed from the wall, but during our meetings in Ostend the idea came up that we should use “façade démocratique” as the title for the book. The slogan will remain now forever! It may cast an ominous shadow over the images of the book. It may suggest that the so-called crisis was already around us long before the word appeared in the media in 2008. Whatever! By focusing on the uglification and fictionalization (disappearance of authenticity) of the public space, I only wanted to show the dreary setting in which we were forced to make it until the end of the day.
But! You were the one that always insisted that you saw more than decay, loss and longing (crisis) in the images.
You had the lenses to see the remaining humanity, hope and beauty. You had the lenses to see that there still remains the potential to express real happiness. You could see that I never wanted to express any nostalgia for the past.
For example, by presenting the traditional carnival in Binche as the very core of the work, I wanted to show that solidarity and true human contact remain possible in times of individualism and virtual realities.
The photographs were made between 2001 and 2008 and were first displayed as a travelling exhibition (Fotografiecircuit Vlaanderen), but were always meant to become a book. And who else would be able to design it?
Yes it was you! The revolution can only start when we see reality through the right lenses!
With my warmest regards,