Rens Dekker (1977) is a Dutch designer and photographer who, in recent years, has provided many domestic and international companies, brands and artists with a visual identity.
L’ÂME DU PAYS NOIR
“For years, I have gone to Belgium for inspiration. It is so close by and so different to the often regulated and over-organised Netherlands. The city of Charleroi in particular won my heart. Initially due to its many scars, which expose the contrasting history of the city, and later primarily thanks to its inhabitants, the Carolos.
There are many prejudices against Carolos and I can say that none of them are true. The inhabitants of Charleroi are described as aggressive and dangerous, but I have only found warm, hospitable and, especially, proud people to live here, who allowed me into their personal lives without expectations or suspicion. It surprised me how comfortable people were with being photographed in their own, Pays Noir.
Every time I returned to Charleroi, I brought the pictures I had taken on my previous visit. I looked my subjects up and presented them with these framed photos. Their responses were emotional and heart warming. The Carolos felt that they had been seen and understood, and they were proud.
Charleroi is a city that is often misunderstood by those who travel past or through it. They judge the city only according to their first impression and they don’t make an effort to discover the beauty that hides behind that façade.
The things we see in others often says more about us than those we are judging. For me, the Carolos are the colourful soul of the black country.”