by Franky Verdickt
Franky Verdickt was born in Belgium in 1971. In 2007 he completed his masters from Luca School of Arts in Belgium with the project ‘Fantasma’. His personal works has been exhibited and awarded worldwide, in 2015 he won the Lensculture Exposure Award and was nominated for the Moscow International Foto Award (MIFA) for his series ‘The South Street Village’. In 2015 he published his second book ‘Nobody likes to be hindered by worldly troubles’. Franky Verdickt currently lives and works in Brussels.
As most Europeans, I live in an place where everything which surrounds me has history. More and more I saw the emerging of places which looked the same. First, by asked myself the question how it is to create a place from nothing, creating a place with no precedent history, how is it possible to induce identity, as the place where we live derives greatly our identity. Secondly, we live in a world with an increasing world population where the need of new living places is evident and crucial. So, building these new places it creates economy and work. And therefore I became interested in who was building these places, the construction workers.
The more I continued my research the more it seemed that creating a places to live seems to go together with exploitation of the workers, fighting against hostile nature environments, colonizing living space of others, or simply making lots of money. It seems that the only way we can create a place to live is by employing larges companies who think for us on how we have to live. The choice on how we can live is reduced to the creativity and commercial interests of large companies. The freedom to decide for people how to live is very limited. The way we are living is dominated by market logics, by cost efficiency. In most of the construction sites the workers are not able to buy what they are building. In Egypt and in China the workers had to live on the construction site since no adequate lodging was made available for the workers. The best working conditions were in Brazil as the workers can organise themselves in unions. The workers in the West Bank live in a perverse situation, the working conditions are fairly good and the wages are way much higher then what they could earn in Palestine, but these Palestinian workers are building houses for Jewish settlements, which makes it a pervers situation, once the settlements are built, they are not allowed anymore to enter the new Jewish settlement, it becomes part of Israel and not Palestine.
In Regained Paradise I show the problematic relation we have in creating places to live. By choosing construction sites as a subject matter, I start at the beginning of a place, a point zero, the place where mostly nothing has been build on before, or were all traces have been removed. I traveled throughout the world and found lots of construction sites in the middle of nowhere, like as they were settlements.
During the three year of this project, I have been documenting construction sites in China, Egypt, Brazil and Israeli settlements in the West Bank. My photographs aim to have a better understanding on how and on which terms we are expanding this world we are creating for ourselves.