On assignment along the N3 road in Belgium

 © Sébastien Van Malleghem

The National 3 RD

On assignment for De Standaard

The phone rang.

“Hey Seb, are you free these days ?”

“Yep”

“Okay for an assignment for DS Magazine could you go photograph the National road N3 before the the 17 of July ?”

Yes. Yes. Yes. I would have said yes a thousand times.

My assignment was clear, and there I was, going to hit the road. The publication of the photos & my text is published this week-end. Here is how it looks inside De Standaard magazine.

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It was a dark day of summer when I hit the N3 road that links Brussels to Aix La Chapelle.

From Flanders, to Wallonia ending up in Germany. Brussels, Leuven, Liege, Aix.

Nothing much to see if you stick on the road, and I wanted to avoid the overseen Cinquenteneraire N3 of Brussels: too obvious. Along this boring national: workers houses, parkings malls and stores. I needed to push further to start grabbing something. Close by Sint truiden an entire section of the road was filled up with girls at the windows, barake à frite & gaz stations. An area that smelled social crisis.

Even the brothels were for sale.

Here one of the house is “Te koop “which means for sale.

Here one of the house is “Te koop “which means for sale.

I never really understood the position of the Belgian law regarding prostitution. It’s illegal but “tolerated”. The brothels or clubs are called “champagne bars” and they hire “Hostesses”. Occidental hypocrisy.

I never really understood the position of the Belgian law regarding prostitution. It’s illegal but “tolerated”. The brothels or clubs are called “champagne bars” and they hire “Hostesses”. Occidental hypocrisy.

Saffraanberg army base on the way, under the rain an old man is selling cherries, while a tarpaulin is flying in the wind over the Belgian fields. Cheers and a whiskey for the ghost I thought.

In Liege, on a bridge I photographed a woman chained to her phone with a defeated blue nail polish. On my ride to the ardennes, an old man cutting sunflowers in the fields for his wife patiently waiting in the car.

Pushing further, still hungry. I met two girl friends eating ice creams on an empty car park. Time to ride back home - the ardennes were deadly empty on that second day.

As the sun went down, I crossed the way of a french family building a temporary circus.
Isn’t it all? A temporary circus?

Thank you all for reading, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making these photographs.
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See you around,

XX

SEB

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