We first discovered this work after it was submitted to the Visual Storytelling Awards 2014. Although it was not chosen as a finalist by the jury, the editors of LensCulture were impressed and decided to publish this feature article about it. Enjoy!


A confabulated history.

[Confabulating: Filling the gaps in one’s memory with new information.]

In the autumn of 1985, a series of violent and bloody robberies of Belgian supermarkets abruptly came to an end. A group of unknown criminals, referred to as “The Gang of Nivelles,” was held responsible for these heinous acts. Between March 1982 and November 1985, the Gang of Nivelles committed 23 robberies and other crimes.

In all, 28 people were killed. My father was one of them.

The excessive violence used by the gang was out of proportion to the relatively modest loot of 175,000 euros. In spite of a thorough police investigation—a file of almost three million pages, conclusive evidence, and witness accounts, the perpetrators were never apprehended. This period of terror and violence will remain one of the darkest pages in Belgian history.

It is a story based on borrowed memories, both personal and collective that become our own—like a confabulated history.

—Jan Rosseel