As Vincent Vega (played by John Travolta) was saying in Pulp Fiction, in one of the many fantastic dialogues from this movie that I saw so many times: But you know what the funniest thing about Europe is? It’s the little differences. I mean, they got the same shit over there that we got here, but it’s just…it’s just, there it’s a little different. Such as the fact that the Dutch put mayonnaise instead of ketchup on the fries, that the Big Mac is called in France Le Big Mac and the hamburger Quarter Pound with Cheese is called Royale with Cheese because of the metric system din (?!) or that in Amsterdam is illegal for the cops to search you and in Paris you can buy beer in a cinema or even at McDonalds (in contrast with USA).
I could say the same thing about Belgium, where I lived a few years: things are…a little different: women in skirts are barefoot in their boots in cold autumns or winter, this might have something to do with the fact that since they are kids, they are carried on the back of their parent’s bikes in shorts even when it’s raining, umbrellas have the shortest life span here, on Sunday the underground and the trains are filled with noisy boy scouts and girl scouts, that – in spite of the hard-to-shake idea that in Romania we possess the most unfriendly shop assistants and the most horrible bureaucracy – Belgium is a serious competitor to that title, that they don’t have curtains in the windows, that each city or train station has three different names, one for each linguistic community in Belgium (for example: Bruxelles in French, Brussel in Flemish, Brüssel in German, plus the name in English: Brussels), that, as Bill Bryson was saying in his book “Neither here nor there” that made me laugh like crazy all the way through: “The Flemings can’ stand the Walloons and the Walloons can’t stand the Flemings, but when you talk to them a little you realize that what holds them together is an even deeper disdain for the French and the Dutch.”, that the statues-souvenirs of Manneken Piss (the boy who – excuse my language – pees) are bigger than the original Manneken and so on.
But what intrigued me the most from visual point of view – and that’s why I started a photo series on this theme – were the window decorations in Belgium. I wanted to call these series “From the outside” (to suggest that I am looking from the outside, physically speaking, but also as a foreigner and…outsider sometimes). And no, I’m not talking about flowers. I’ve seen in the windows statues, miniature ships, hats, motorcycle helmets, pots, toys, china, dolls, even ivory fangs!! I find this really typical of Belgium, I haven’t seen it anywhere else. What is even more interesting is that these objects are facing the street, not the interior of the house, so it’s obvious that they are put there for the passers by to look at, not for the inhabitants of the house. I wouldn’t want to give a simplistic interpretation to this phenomena, but it is well known that the objects that we collect represent us. And I was wondering, as I was passing by these windows, what do these objects say about the people who live in the house. It is a question that I live open and I let you imagine a story if you wish to exercise your imagination 🙂
However, this is an unfinished photo project, because in the meanwhile I left Belgium. In fact, to be completely honest, this is just a lame excuse. This is the typical example of a project – like many others – that I didn’t take seriously, I didn’t believe in enough or simply abandoned. Therefore proving – if I ever needed more proof in this respect – that it is so easy (maybe it is typical of the human nature, from what I noticed whenever I need to go to the gym 🙂 ), to say to myself: today I am too tired after work, today it is raining, today I simply don’t feel like photographing, and so on. And then good ideas never come to life. At some point I had this idea to make a photo + drawing + writing project called “Little Treaty of Unaccomplished Great Ideas”. From what I have spoken with many people, there would be enough material for an Encyclopedia Britannica of unaccomplished ideas. Well, The Treaty itself is unaccomplished 🙂 or maybe waiting for the right moment…let’s see if it ever comes.
Question: Would you like to share with me an idea that you thought it was great but you never put into practice? Thank you.
For the Romanian version of this post go here