In the documentary installation PASSAGE the audience is encapsulated and taken on a barge, a riverboat, a Spits, along the so-called ‘North-South': Special shipping lanes that run from the Netherlands through Belgium to the south of France.
Departing from Amsterdam, in the lowlands of Europe the Spits travels across the hills of the Belgian Ardennes, the mountains of the French Vosges, then down the ' Delta of the Rhône' to the South of France.
Upstream, 3 screens
By showing the film simultaneously on three screens, the viewer will be meditatively immersed in a fluctuating world of movement and time. The journey will take you along small sluices, long stripes of water, mountains and valleys. Along vast fields of bright yellow rapeseed and lanes lined with plane trees.
The harbour of Amsterdam and the backs of the fire-breathing factories in Charleroi (Belgian) pass by. The view alternates between cities and deserted landscapes. Sometimes other Spitsen are visible in the distance, before they round a green bend or are swollowed by an old tunnel. The ships are being lifted up meters high by ship elevators or disappear behind industrial chimneys.
Discretely we follow. The skippers’ struggle to preserve their way of life. Slowly they travel upstream, getting entangled in a web of European rules, indicating the turn in the economic tides.
Once the network of inland waterways was the lifeblood of the European economy. Now its veins are clogging up: Ever fewer ships are passing by.
PASSAGE shows the poetry of what men have made and what is in danger to be lost to time and socio- economic changes. The barge becomes a metaphor for these processes and the slowly changing European world.
Sustained by the mechanical sounds of the barge the images seem to reduce reality. At the same time the interplay between the three screens emphasizes tangible details. The audience share a dreamy voyage through a landscape upon which men has left his marks: channels, sluices, tunnels and aquaducts. They pave the way for the ship and symbolize the conflict between nature and culture and the fragility of human ingenuity.
And back again
PASSAGE is an experimental documentary film. Watching it on three separate screens makes for a near-hypnotic experience, an almost meditative state of mindfulness.
The slow, continuous movement intensifies one’s perception. There’s so much to be discovered in the ever-changing field of vision and on the shore gliding along.
With PASSAGE we investigate the film installation as a restorative form, using the strategies of documentary film. Not only to make a work about the European inland waterway shipping, but to try and relocate the viewer into the experience of a skipper, transforming him - or her - into a skipper himself.
To complete the post-production, with music, sound and colourgrading we need your support.
The shooting of this film has been made possible by: