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A documentary sketchbook of a village that has almost disappeared


Jeroen Janssen

The polder village of Doel, situated in the shadow of a nuclear reactor near the port of Antwerp, has been a pawn in the power games of successive politicians since the 1960s. At first, there were plans for it to be demolished to make way for the port expansion, but then there was talk of preservation. In 1998, the decision was made that it should disappear for good. Yet it is still standing today. Or at least what’s left of it. The continuing uncertainty has prompted many residents to move away, turning Doel into a ghost town.

Probably the book of the year
Forbidden Planet

Jeroen Janssen became fascinated by those who stayed behind and by their stories, visiting Doel many times to draw their histories and that of the village. In this thick tome, which is like a sketchbook, he also expresses his own frustration at this official indecision. ‘Doel’ is an impressive account of a personal journey of discovery in a village whose fate has long been uncertain.

Remarkable stories

Five years after ‘Doel’ Jeroen Janssen returns to the village in ‘There Are Still People There’. In his unique voice, he documents the changes that the village and especially its past and present residents have undergone. Janssen’s highly personal perspective results in stories that, beyond political and social debates, mainly focus on the human dimension.

Cover 'There Are Still People There'
Cover 'There Are Still People There'