In the long period between the closure of the coal mine of Waterschei (Genk, BE) in 1987 and the renovation of the site in 2010 the parking lot in front of the mine building was frequently used by truck drivers as a rest stop. The truck drivers, mainly from Turkish origin, could find shops and bars across the street (André Dumontlaan) for food, a shower and social contact. On August 30th, 2004 the city of Genk closed the parking lot with a nightly action and wrote out a prohibition for all trucks in the vicinity of the parking lot.
Nowadays the streets suffers from great vacancy: a lot of the shops had to close because of the deplacement of the truckers. From the Centrum voor Heimwee, located in an abandoned house at André Dumontlaan, graphic designers Stijn Segers and Niek Kosten did research on the concept of heimwee (homesickness), searched for connections with the neighbourhood to collect stories, pictures and other archive material from the old parking lot and made plans for the erection of a Monument for the Unknown Trucker on the parking lot.
Commemorating the lost truckers of Waterschei, Segers and Kosten once again closed the parking lot for all traffic. They named this action as Monument for the Unknown Trucker. The parking was closed from Thursday September 13, 00:00 until Friday September 14, 00:00. Thursday September 13 at 19:00 a remembrance ceremony for the lost truckers was held at the blockade in collaboration with Manifesta 9.
Photos Ceremony at Manifesta 9
Photo by Hugo Thomassen
Niek Kosten is a design researcher, teacher and independent graphic designer from Belgium.
He is part of the research group Social Spaces (LUCA School of Arts) where he is currently working on his PhD. At LUCA School of Arts – Campus C-mine in Genk, Kosten teaches in the fields of critical design, public space and graphic design at the Interaction Design & Game Design program. He is also co-founder of KOPIJ, a graphic workspace in Hasselt and creates self-initiated and commissioned works that critically explore societal issues as an independent designer.